True Colors Fund

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The True Colors Fund is an American nonprofit organization co-founded by Cyndi Lauper in 2008 to educate people regarding lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) issues and end LGBT youth homelessness.[1]


The True Colors Fund was founded in 2008 by Cyndi Lauper, her manager Lisa Barbaris, and agent Jonny Podell, following the success of Lauper's True Colors tour, which benefited LGBT foundations including the Human Rights Campaign, PFLAG, and the Matthew Shepard Foundation.


In America, up to 1.6 million youth experience homelessness each year. LGBT youth make up to 40% of all young people experiencing homelessness, but only comprise an estimated 7% of the total youth population. Homeless LGBT youth are at greater risk for victimization, unsafe sexual practices, and mental health issues than non-LGBT youth experiencing homelessness.[2]

The most commonly cited reason LGBT youth become homeless is family rejection due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. Other reasons include family issues, aging out of foster care, abuse in the home, and poverty.[3]


Community Organizing[edit]

True Inclusion Assessment[edit]

The True Inclusion Assessment tool enables homeless youth serving organizations to assess their level of LGBT-inclusion. Following completion of the Assessment, a work plan is created to guide the organization toward building a safer and more supportive environment for LGBT youth. The True Colors Fund provides technical assistance and support during the implementation of these plans.[4]

True Inclusion Directory[edit]

The True Inclusion Directory is an online directory of safe and affirming services for homeless LGBT youth. Users are able to search for service providers and events based on location and the type of resource needed.[5]

True Connect[edit]

True Connect is a mobile application being developed by the True Colors Fund to help connect homeless LGBT youth to resources and opportunities near them. The app will pull data from the True Colors Fund's True Inclusion Directory to link young people to resources like phone charging stations, gender-neutral restrooms, food, shelter, employment programs, and more.[6]

40 to None Network[edit]

The 40 to None Network is an international collective of professionals working to address LGBT youth homelessness, or whose work has the potential to impact the issue. 40 to None Network members share case studies, innovative practices and strategies, top headlines from the field, and information about upcoming in person and virtual events.[7]

True U[edit]

40 to None Network members have access to True U, an online training platform designed to educate individuals about and enable them to address LGBT youth homelessness in their communities. True U provides short, interactive content to help establish a common understanding about LGBT youth homelessness.[8]

LGBTQ Youth Homelessness Prevention Initiative[edit]

A partnership with five federal partners (the U.S. Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Education, Health and Human Services, Justice, and USICH), the LGBTQ Youth Homelessness Prevention Initiative identifies successful strategies to address LGBT youth homelessness and implements them in cooperation with communities around the country. Currently, prevention plans are being implemented in Houston, TX and Hamilton County, OH.[9]

Youth Count Toolkit[edit]

Point-In-Time (PIT) counts are mandated by HUD to capture a 24-hour snapshot of a community's homeless population. Since most PIT counts are designed to count adults, the True Colors Fund developed the Youth Count Toolkit to offer communities effective strategies for counting homeless youth.[10]

Public Engagement[edit]

LGBT Rural Summit Series[edit]

A collaboration between the True Colors Fund, the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Civil Rights at the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the LGBT Rural Summit Series offers a unique opportunity to share information relating to policies, programs, and services that exist to protect, promote, and strengthen LGBT rural communities. Summits have been held in Greensboro, NC; Lost River, WV; Wayne, NE; Baton Rouge, LA; Dallas, TX; Atlanta, GA; Nashville, TN; Seattle, WA; and more.[11]

Give a Damn Campaign[edit]

The Give a Damn Campaign was launched in 2008 as an online resource of information on current LGBT issues. The website is especially geared for straight people, who want to learn more about and get involved in LGBT issues.[12] The website features an issues page, outlining major topics including workplace discrimination, hate crimes, marriage, faith, school, suicide, homelessness, family acceptance, parenting, international, health care, immigration, older adults, and the military.[13] Each issue page provides a link to a partner organization's website for readers to visit for more information and opportunities to get further involved with the issue.

Another component of the Give a Damn Campaign is a series of Public Service Announcement videos featuring celebrities and notable individuals. Each video is centered around a specific issue of the campaign and urges viewers to get involved.

The website also allows users to take a pledge to "Give a Damn" about LGBT equality, which personalizes the site based on the information given and keeps users up-to-date with news via monthly e-newsletters.

Public Policy[edit]

The True Colors Fund works with federal, state, and local government to advocate for policies that fund vital resources for homeless youth, and that programs receiving such funding are inclusive and affirming of LGBT youth.[14] The True Colors Fund's relationship with the White House has led to the first and second ever White House Policy Briefings on Youth Homelessness.[15]


Every two years, the True Colors Fund collaborates with the Williams Institute to survey homeless youth service providers about the LGBT youth they serve. Information gathered from the survey in published in the Serving Our Youth report and informs the development of the True Colors Fund's public engagement, technical assistance, and online course development.[16] At the Intersections is a collaborative report led by the True Colors Fund and the National LGBTQ Task Force and explores the intersectional nature of the different factors facing homeless LGBT youth.[17]

Youth Collaboration[edit]

True Opportunities[edit]

The True Colors Fund works with corporate and arts world partners to provide at-risk and homeless LGBT youth with the opportunity to learn about career opportunities available to them. Through a partnership with the Tony winning musical Kinky Boots, the Raise You Up program takes young people backstage to show them the many different aspects to putting together a Broadway show, introduce them to cast and crew, and watch the show.[18]



#40toNoneDay is a national day held annually on the last Wednesday of April to raise public awareness about LGBT youth homelessness, and provide people with ways to make a difference. Supporters are encouraged to take "unselfies" (selfies for a good cause) to post online with facts, figures, and messages of support and encouragement. The most recent #40toNoneDay was held on Wednesday, April 27, 2016 and reached an estimated 98 million people online.[19]

40 to None Summit[edit]

The 40 to None Summit is an annual conference that brings together leaders working to end LGBT youth homelessness for interactive sessions, action planning, and networking opportunities. It is the only national conference focusing on LGBT youth homelessness.[20]

State of Out Youth: A Town Hall[edit]

State of Out Youth is an annual panel discussion with LGBTQ youth from across the country about the most pressing issues facing them today. First held in 2013, State of Out Youth has been a collaborative effort in partnership with CenterLink, GSA Network, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, and Lambda Legal.[21]

Cyndi Lauper & Friends: Home for the Holidays[edit]

Home for the Holidays is an annual benefit concert held each December at the Beacon Theater in New York City. First held in 2011, the concert raises awareness about LGBT youth homelessness, with 100% of proceeds benefiting the True Colors Fund. Past performers include musicians and comedy acts such as Lou Reed, P!nk, Josh Groban, 50 Cent, Sharon Osbourne, Jason Mraz, Boy George, Ledisi, Nelly Furtado, Sarah McLachlan, Whoopi Goldberg, Adam Lambert, Rosie O'Donnell, Roberta Flack, Carson Kressley, Sufjan Stevens, and St. Vincent.[22]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Our Work". True Colors Fund. 2015-04-14. Retrieved 2016-06-08.
  3. ^ "Our Issue". True Colors Fund. 2015-04-14. Retrieved 2016-06-10.
  4. ^ "True Inclusion Assessment". True Colors Fund. 2015-05-13. Retrieved 2016-06-10.
  5. ^ "True Colors Fund | Ending LGBT Youth Homelessness". Retrieved 2016-06-10.
  6. ^ "True Connect". True Colors Fund. 2016-04-25. Retrieved 2016-06-10.
  7. ^ "40 to None Network". True Colors Fund. 2015-05-13. Retrieved 2016-06-10.
  8. ^ "True U". True Colors Fund. 2015-05-13. Retrieved 2016-06-10.
  9. ^ "LGBTQ Youth Homelessness Prevention Initiative". True Colors Fund. 2015-05-04. Retrieved 2016-06-10.
  10. ^ "Youth Count Toolkit". True Colors Fund. 2015-04-17. Retrieved 2016-06-10.
  11. ^ "LGBT Rural Summit Series". True Colors Fund. 2015-05-13. Retrieved 2016-06-10.
  12. ^
  13. ^[permanent dead link]
  14. ^ "Public Policy". True Colors Fund. 2015-04-16. Retrieved 2016-06-10.
  15. ^ "A Recap of the 2016 White House Policy Briefing on Youth Homelessness". True Colors Fund. 2016-06-07. Retrieved 2016-06-10.
  16. ^ "Serving Our Youth: Service Provider Survey & Report". True Colors Fund. 2015-04-20. Retrieved 2016-06-10.
  17. ^ "At the Intersections | A Collaborative Resource on LGBTQ Youth Homelessness". At the Intersections. Retrieved 2016-06-10.
  18. ^ "True Opportunities". True Colors Fund. 2015-05-13. Retrieved 2016-06-10.
  19. ^ "#40toNoneDay | Wednesday, April 27, 2016". True Colors Fund. 2016-02-02. Retrieved 2016-06-10.
  20. ^ "40 to None Summit | October 7–8, 2016". True Colors Fund. 2016-04-01. Retrieved 2016-06-10.
  21. ^ "State of Out Youth | September 24, 2015 | 5pm ET | Online". True Colors Fund. 2015-04-20. Retrieved 2016-06-10.
  22. ^