SALT LAKE CITY, Oct. 13, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Encircle, a pioneering non-profit that builds homes that provide life-saving mental health services and community programs for LGBTQ+ youth and their families, today announced that with a new $1 million donation from Domo and Josh James, Domo founder and CEO, and his wife, Marina James, the organization has reached its goal of raising $8 million to build eight new Encircle homes. In addition, The Kahlert Foundation is contributing an added $1 million for a ninth home in Utah.
To help raise funds to sustain these new homes, Encircle is also announcing the launch of its new Sustainability Fund, which will ensure continued support for LGBTQ+ youth at all Encircle locations. To kick off the Sustainability Fund, Encircle is opening its first Encircle Cafe in Salt Lake City, which will not only employ Encircle youth, but also provide funds to support the home.
Earlier this year, Encircle kicked off its “$8 Million, 8 Houses” capital campaign to begin the nationwide expansion of Encircle with initial donations and support from Apple, Qualtrics founder and Utah Jazz owners Ryan and Ashley Smith, and Imagine Dragons’ lead singer Dan Reynolds and his wife, recording artist Aja Volkman. Chaired by Apple CEO Tim Cook, the Smiths, Reynolds and Volkman, the goal of the campaign was to support the non-profit’s expansion efforts to build community, acceptance and understanding for LGBTQ+ youth and their families, and promote its philosophy of No Sides, Only Love. With the campaign goal reached following the latest donation from Domo and Josh and Marina James, Encircle will be able to continue its expansion with new locations in Arizona, Idaho, Nevada and Utah. The non-profit has already started construction on locations in Heber, Logan and Ogden, Utah, and in Las Vegas, Nevada.
As Encircle enters this next phase, its top priority remains to build community, acceptance and understanding for LGBTQ+ youth and their families. In order to ensure the ongoing operations of Encircle’s new homes, including therapy sessions and other programming to support LGBTQ+ youth, Encircle is now opening its new Sustainability Fund. This fund will help secure the future for those who benefit from Encircle’s programs and services.
As part of the Sustainability Fund, Encircle is also opening the first Encircle Cafe in its Salt Lake City home at 331 600 East in Salt Lake City. The cafe will not only provide employment and skills training to Encircle youth, but offer an additional source of income for the home. The Salt Lake City cafe, which will be open during the day, is a pilot program with the hope of implementing similar cafes at other Encircle locations. Encircle homes will continue to provide services and support during afternoon and evening hours. The cafes will be staffed in part by Encircle youth who will receive on-the-job training and learn essential life skills.
“At Encircle we believe there are no sides, only love, and we are so thankful for everyone who has believed in us and made our vision to help more youth and families a reality,” said Stephenie Larsen, founder and CEO of Encircle. “The more communities we are able to enter, the more LGBTQ+ youth we will be able to serve, ensuring they feel loved and supported no matter what. Our new sustainability fund will help to ensure a secure future for Encircle so we can serve youth and families for years to come.”
“Knowing you are loved and accepted, just as you are, is one of the greatest gifts a human being can receive,” said Josh James, founder and CEO, Domo. “We are grateful for the work that Encircle has done to create safe spaces and support for LGBTQ+ youth and their families. On behalf of Domo, Marina and myself, we hope our contributions help advance a brighter and more inclusive world for LGBTQ+ youth, and spark conversations that help us get closer to a more loving and accepting world for everyone.”
“It’s amazing to watch the impact Encircle has had on the Utah community over the past few years,” said Heather Kahlert, executive vice president of the Kahlert Foundation. “We have a need for more mental health services in Utah especially when it comes to Utah’s LGBTQ+ youth. Encircle’s excellence in providing these services is unmatched and our family foundation couldn’t think of a better organization to partner with in order to help all youth in our community feel loved and supported.”
“Ashley and I want everyone to know that they will always have a place of safety wherever we are — that every person is safe to be their true self, openly and wholeheartedly,” said Ryan Smith, founder of Qualtrics and owner of the Utah Jazz. “As someone who is passionate about Utah, I am so proud that Encircle started here. And while the challenges LGBTQ+ youth face are not limited to one geography, tradition, or culture, it’s a powerful statement that one of the greatest solutions — Encircle — started here. I couldn’t be more excited to help this incredible organization expand across the US — there should be an Encircle in every city — because there are no sides, only love.”
“Having the opportunity to bring Encircle to the Las Vegas community has been incredibly rewarding for both Aja and I,” said Dan Reynolds. “We are excited to continue to follow and support Encircle as it expands to help even more LGBTQ+ youth and their families come together with their communities to lift everyone up.”
“Many of Utah’s LGBTQ youth face higher rates of depression, anxiety and social isolation, and that’s why Encircle is so important,” said Utah Governor Spencer Cox. “Finding a place for support, encouragement and belonging can make all the difference for LGBTQ youth and families, and Encircle provides that safe space. I’m proud to support Encircle as it serves thousands of Utah’s most vulnerable youth.”
Supporters of the “$8 Million, 8 Houses” capital campaign included Adobe, Apple, AT&T, Dell Loy Hansen Family Foundation, Domo, Elevation Capital, LOVELOUD Foundation, Mercado Partners, Pelion Venture Partners, The Kahlert Foundation, The State of Utah, Thread Wallets, Traeger Grills, Verizon, Young Automotive Group, Zions Bank and Scott Anderson, Ravi Adusumalli and Mairi Leining, Holly Alden, Jeremy and Kristin Andrus, Bruce Bastion and Clint Ford, Brad Clark, Chris and Angie Harrington, Josh and Marina James, Mike Levinthal, Michael and Autumn McAlpine, David Parkinson, John and Heidi Pestana, Dan Reynolds and Aja Volkman, Ryan and Ashley Smith, Greg Warnock, and the Westwood Family.
For more information about Encircle, its expansion project, or to make a donation, please visit: www.encircletogether.org.
Serving LGBTQ+ youth since February 2017, Encircle: LGBTQ+ Family and Youth Center, has functioned as a welcoming presence to LGBTQ+ youth and their families. Founded in Utah, Encircle is taking their innovative program to Arizona, Idaho, and Nevada in its initial expansion with the goal of implementing the program nationwide. With the purpose of addressing the loneliness and high rates of suicide frequently experienced amongst LGBTQ+ youth and young adults, the nonprofit offers love and support with a motto of “No Sides, Only Love.” This is accomplished through providing individual and family therapy, support groups, and a safe space to young LGBTQ+ people throughout the U.S. Learn more about Encircle at www.encircletogether.org.