Friends of THRIVE,
Since 2015, our organization has existed to serve one mission: to create safer and more inclusive k-college educational environments for queer and trans youth throughout the 10-county southwestern Pennsylvania region. To that end, we have worked with school GSAs and GSSUs; we have partnered with the Pittsburgh Public Schools district to provide training and resources for staff and administration; we have educated pre-service teachers at Duquesne University on the best practices for creating gender-inclusive classrooms; and we have supported other local LGBTQ+ organizations and events. Through this work, we have met and served alongside over 25 schools, 600 students, 100 teachers, and dozens more area groups, nonprofits, and willing individuals. Over the course of these years, our immediate staff has never exceeded eight people.
We have in engaged in what, to us, has felt like meaningful, life-changing work—something that has hopefully created a foundation of real change in our region that will have a positive impact on queer and trans young people, and especially those youth in our communities who are most vulnerable due to racism, classism, ableism, and other forms of oppression. But we have also learned the difficulties of operating as a very small team hoping to tackle a very large set of systemic factors. And we have realized that, simply because a group of individuals are dedicated to the work and to seeing an impact in their communities, it doesn’t mean one’s organization will be the singular solution or best way forward—especially when faced with the multitude of obstacles that beleaguer small nonprofits. Our goal has never been to create in ourselves a cure-all, but rather to inspire and provide resources for folks in local communities who know what their communities need and how to build solutions.
So it is, after much careful consideration, time for us to announce that THRIVE of Southwestern PA will dissolve as an organization at the end of 2018. It has been a difficult, but necessary, decision for us to make. And while THRIVE may be sunsetting, the work is not. See below for our ongoing initiatives!
Our staff will continue to be a support in this time. We also have a plan for ongoing resources: Dakota R. Garilli, local educator and consultant, will continue to provide trainings on gender inclusion in classrooms and educational spaces even after THRIVE has dissolved.
We hope you will be able to take advantage of these opportunities as you continue in your work to have a positive impact on LGBTQIA youth in your k-college educational space. Please know that, while all good things must come to an end, our board and staff will be returning to our communities to work alongside you in new capacities once our lifetime as an organization has ended. This is a new beginning in our region, and we are still in this together.
With deepest gratitude,
The Board and Staff of THRIVE of Southwestern PA
Glynis Arnold, Eric D’Ambrogi, Samone Riddle, and Ryan Whelan
Inclusive Schools Grants
Thank you to those schools and organizations that have submitted proposals for the SWPA LGBTQIA Inclusive Schools Grant. We have received 16 proposals and will be making final decisions on funding by mid-August. These folks know they have the power to make sustainable change in their schools and educational spaces, and we want to provide the funds necessary to begin that process.
Our partnership with Pittsburgh Public Schools will continue throughout the summer and first half of the school year. We can still provide trainings to your school and will be creating a set of new digital resources that will live online after our sunset for a period of two years.
Our monthly email blasts will continue through December, pointing you to other local and regional resources available to you. You are not alone in this work.