LGBTQ resource centers for Utah on hold due to funding issues
PROVO, Utah — A Utah nonprofit dedicated to helping LGBTQ youth is becoming another victim of tough economic times.
For almost six years, Encircle has helped nearly 60,000 LGBTQ teens with three centers across the state.
Stephenie Larsen is the founder and CEO of Encircle. She opened the first center in Provo on Valentine’s Day in 2017. She said the center was immediately full of teens and families looking for resources. So, it was a no-brainer to open two more centers — one in Salt Lake City and another in St. George.
The centers are expensive to run, with highly skilled social workers and therapists, along with staff members. The company is a 501c(3) that is donor funded.
A year and a half ago, with the help of Imagine Dragons and the LOVELOUD Foundation, Larsen raised $8 million to build eight new centers. But rising costs of construction combined with inflation have made it impossible to finish two that are currently under construction — one in Ogden and another in Logan.
In addition, Larsen said she made the tough decision to cut her team by 27%.
The decisions have been brutal for Larsen, especially after families have been able to utilize the resources Encircle has available.
Last year, Encircle helped 80% more teens than the year before, so to push pause on projects already in the works is tough.
“I think there is a misunderstanding that Encircle is well funded,” Larsen said. “But this is not an inexpensive project to do.”
The nonprofit gets $200,000 in state money every year, which helps, but Larsen said hiring highly trained social workers and therapists is always going to cost a lot.
A new location in Heber City will open next month, but that will be the last new Encircle for the foreseeable future.
If you would like more information about Encircle, click here.
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