Connect 4 Life is a first-of-it’s-kind program developed to put mobile technology into the hands of one of the LGBT communities most vulnerable populations. According to a landmark 2012 study and part of the LGBT Technology Institute’s Connect 4 Life research, nearly 40% of America’s homeless youth identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. This equates to over 650,000 LGBT youth on America’s streets at any given moment. These young people have often faced rejection by parents and families and abuse from their peers, leaving them without stable systems of support. When they seek help, they regularly encounter service providers who lack basic competency to care for their needs or provide them with an environment free from attacks on their identities. As a result, homeless LGBT youth experience higher rates of depression, abuse, and suicidality and are more likely to engage in risky social behaviors.
Huffington Post 2015
Today, many homeless youth own a working cell phone – more than 40% according to a 2011 study by the University of Southern California – and use them to connect with life saving services like caseworkers, social workers, or shelters, to contact current or potential employers, and to stay in touch with their support networks. “They use their phones to pull themselves up by their boot straps,” said USC Professor Eric Rice, lead author of the study. Rice and others who’ve study the problem see cell phones as broadening homeless teens’ potential and opportunities, and have suggested that agencies help homeless youth acquire a cell phone or assist with paying monthly bills. “It is a relatively easy structural way to get them off the streets,” he said in a 2011 interview.
The LGBT Technology Institute has developed the Connect 4 Life program to put these recommendations into practice, partnering with the tech industry and organizations serving homeless LGBT youth to offer free cell phones and a limited service plan to LGBT youth experiencing homelessness.
Connect 4 Life will:
In 2014, the LGBT Technology Institute released research looking into technology and the homeless LGBT community. The Connect 4 Life program is based on this research and seeks to build on it with the expansion of the program. Download a copy of the research below.
Washington, D.C. – Connect 4 Life held a launch event in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, March 4, 2015.
We are currently looking at New York City as our next launch.
Please find our Connect 4 Life partners below.
You can support the Connect 4 Life Program in 2 ways.
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