In late December, representatives of The Frederick Center asked the City of Frederick for $5,200 to help fund its youth program. It was the first time the four-year-old non-profit has made a formal funding request to the city or any government agency.
The youth group program consists of weekly meetings for individuals from ages 13 to 23. “It’s a place where they can basically hang out with each other,” Kris Fair, executive director of The Frederick Center, told The Frederick News-Post. “We have speakers, games, events, peer-to-peer mediation. It’s basically just a weekly opportunity for youth to interact with each other and, most importantly, affirm one another in a positive space.”
A licensed clinical social worker facilitates the meetings every other week. The issues addressed include mental health questions, school-related issues, transitional matters and parental concerns, according to Amy Wilkinson, a youth program coordinator, in an email to the News-Post.
The Frederick Center’s annual budget is about $60,000 with 25 to 30 percent of that amount dedicated to the youth program. That group receives funding from private individual donors, local businesses, and the group’s Frederick Pride festival as well as from community fundraisers and benefits, said Wilkinson.
The public money sought for the program would pay half the salary of a mental health professional. Wilkinson told the News-Post that the youth group has tripled in size since 2013 with an increasing number of younger members joining.
Alderman Michael O’Connor told the News-Post that he supports the funding in next year’s budget. “The Frederick Center does wonderful work in the community, and I would like to be able to support them,” he said.
The Frederick Center plans to ask Frederick County for funding since the center serves both city and county residents but is not certain how such money would be spent.
“The Frederick Center began partnering with our city and county governments two years ago,” Fair told the Blade. “That partnership has been rapidly expanding and we are hoping with these requested grants we can further strengthen that bond to provide critical services to the LGBTQ community.”