NEW YORK, NY - June 29, 2012 - The Ali Forney Center, the nation’s largest organization working on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) runaway and homeless youth, is pleased to announce that its founder and Executive Director Carl Siciliano has been selected by the White House as a Champion of Change in the Fight Against Youth Homelessness.  As a Champion of Change, Siciliano will attend a July 12 White House event alongside other leaders who have made a significant difference in the way their communities combat homelessness among children and youth. 

At the Champions of Change Fight Against Youth Homelessness event, to be held on Thursday, July 12 at 1:30 PM EDT, agency representatives and various White House officials will participate in a discussion with Siciliano and fellow Champions to hear about their efforts to serve homeless youth, and about policies and best practices to aid this vulnerable population. In conjunction with the White House event, Siciliano’s story will also be featured on the White House website.

Said Siciliano: "It is thrilling that as we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Ali Forney Center, we are also being recognized by the White House for our pioneering work on behalf of homeless LGBT youth. When we opened the Ali Forney Center, the challenges we faced were daunting; there was very little awareness of the plight of homeless LGBT youth, especially on the federal level, and it was difficult to obtain support for our work. I am very grateful to President Obama for recognizing the needs of homeless LGBT youth
and incorporating their care into his vision of ending youth homelessness. I am also grateful to the White House for recognizing the quality, innovation, and  importance of the Ali Forney Center, which is a testament to all of the individuals who have served on the board, staff and as volunteers."

Though the New York City Council recently averted draconian budget cuts proposed by
the mayor that would have thrown many youth onto the streets, the need for youth shelter in the city continues to grow; in 2011 alone, the waiting list for AFC’s 77 shelter beds in New York grew to 199 youth - an increase of 40 percent over the prior year.  In total, the city only funds 250 shelter beds, for a population of 3,800 homeless youth.   In response to this crisis, the Ali Forney Center and a number of allied organizations have launched the Campaign for Youth Shelter.  This initiative calls on New York City and State to back an additional $3 million in annual funding, set aside to create 100 new shelter beds every year until no youth shelter has a waiting list.  

About the Ali Forney Center

The Ali Forney Center (AFC) was started in June of 2002 in response to the lack of safe shelter for LGBT youth in New York City. The Center is committed to providing these young people with safe, dignified, nurturing environments where their needs can be met, and where they can begin to put their lives back together. AFC is dedicated to promoting awareness of the plight of homeless LGBT youth in the United States with the goal of generating responses on local and national levels from government funders, foundations, and the LGBT community. 

CONTACT: Cathy Renna, 917-757-6123, cathy@rennacommunications.com

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