June is Pride Month, and to celebrate, our team has gotten to know a very special organization, Twin Cities United Way’s Arise Project. To learn more about their message, Tunheim sat down with Claire Psarouthakis, Giving Communities Manager for Greater Twin Cities United Way. Tunheim stands with our LGBTQ+ community, team members and clients now and always. Check out our social channels for how we are honoring Pride during COVID-19.

Claire Psarouthakis, Giving Communities Manager for Greater Twin Cities United Way

For someone who isn’t familiar with the organization, what is the Arise Project?

Arise Project is one of Greater Twin Cities United Way’s Giving Communities and was established to bring people together to help support LGBTQ youth facing homelessness in the Twin Cities. Arise Project allows donors to follow their money into our doors, get involved, learn more about the needs of the youth we are serving, and then help make decisions about how we use these innovative grant dollars to create the greatest impact. Arise Project is the only major funder of LGBTQ youth homelessness in the State of Minnesota and we are celebrating our 10th birthday this year!

How does Arise Project address the needs of the LGBTQ community?

Arise works with our community partners to help fund programs that are specifically targeted at LGBTQ youth. In the past this has meant funding LGBTQ host home programs, support groups, staff trainings, and bringing on case managers. We also support many youth centered leadership programs such as a Queer Peer Outreach Worker at Lutheran Social Services, and Youth Advisory Boards at both The Link and Bridge for Youth. We work with our supported organization partners around addressing the unique needs they are seeing on the ground, as well as the Community Impact staff at United Way to understand a broader view of the youth housing ecosystem.

Arise Project’s efforts are more important than ever. How has the organization’s efforts shifted following the recent events of racial injustice and inequity?

Arise knows that the fight for LGBTQ civil rights was started, and continues to be led, by queer people of color (QPOC.) We suspect anecdotally that when we talk about 40% of youth facing homelessness identifying as LGBTQ (Wilder Foundation) that, that intersects with a disproportionate number of those youth coming from communities of color. Arise Project supports organizations that not only recognize that intersectionality, but are actively engaging with it in their work, to come up with the most innovative solutions for our community. We want to make sure that the next generation of Marsha P Johnsons and Sylvia Riveras, can focus on something other than where they are going to sleep at night, and believe that the entire community is made better for those efforts.

In what ways can people get involved with Arise Project? Whether it be through monetary donations or volunteer opportunities.

We are ALWAYS looking for more members! Join us for one of our upcoming virtual events where we will be highlighting organizations that we support and the work they are doing. We are also creating educational opportunities for the community so that individuals can understand questions like, “why do LGBTQ youth need ‘special’ support?” We would love for people to consider giving a membership qualifying donation ($40/month or $500/year), and to join our Steering Committee. Steering Committee members help us plan our calendar of events, and also work through a grant decision cycle every two years to determine where Arise Project funding will go throughout the community.

Happy Pride Month! What is Arise Project doing this month to celebrate?

On June 23rd we hosted the Tretter Collection from the University of Minnesota, which gave an overview on LGBTQ history in Minnesota and debut their new podcast on trans justice. Arise Project will also be fundraising during Give OUT Day, the only national day of giving for the LGBTQ community, on June 30th. We invite you to check out our Give OUT Day page and to support our work to ensure stability for the programs that we fund in this tumultuous time. Like many organizations we are unable to host our traditional events this year (our annual Pre-Pride Parade gathering Arise + Shine, and our educational panel event Arise Together) because of COVID-19. We hope that Minnesotans will step up and support organizations like Arise Project even though we are unable to gather physically with our queer and allied supporters.