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Destination Tomorrow, a Bronx tale

Proving the power of dedication

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The Bronx is the second smallest of New York’s five boroughs. But it boasts 1.47 million residents, a population larger than most cities in the United States. Of its residents, an estimated 59,000 identify as LGBTQ. Yet, the resources due a community of that size—from social services to inclusive healthcare—have not always been available. Thankfully, that is changing. Longtime Stonewall grantee partners, like SAGE and Callen-Lorde, are part of a fast-growing nonprofit landscape in this vibrant borough. However, the incredible energy we see in the Bronx is epitomized by one group in particular: Destination Tomorrow.

When our relationship with Destination Tomorrow began in 2015, the Bronx had been without an LGBTQ center for three years. The Bronx Community Pride Center, which had received its very first foundation grant in the late 90s from Stonewall, was forced to close in 2012 amid a scandal involving its executive director. Not only was that a tragic setback for the community, but it also created a heightened sense of risk for any such future endeavors.

However, with the full confidence of our community grants advisory panel, we awarded Destination Tomorrow its very first grant. Even with annual expenses at just $33,000, we saw DT’s devoted and well-respected founder, Sean Coleman, poised to build anew what he described as a “life-affirming community center, where LGBTQ people are able to access and participate in culturally competent services that improve health, social, educational, and employment outcomes.”

Our initial funding of DT was modest but amounted to nearly 20 percent of their budget. It was also a critical intervention in that it signaled to other funders, including local government, that DT was sound, responsible, and deserving of their trust. We believed that an early investment in DT could have an exponential impact, and it most certainly has. While our support remains consistent and our partnership meaningful in helping advance their work, it would be impossible to keep pace with DT’s expansion. They employ a dozen staff and occupy a 9,000-square-foot space, with offerings that include housing advocacy, GED prep and career readiness programs, financial literacy trainings, as well as cultural and arts events. Now the official LGBTQ center of the Bronx, DT’s budget has grown by more than 800 percent since our first grant, with significant revenue from foundations. And, in June 2018, DT was awarded $470,000 by the City Council for its 2019 fiscal year.

Destination Tomorrow believes that no one should have to leave their neighborhood to access LGBTQ specific services, that people deserve a space they can call their own. We believe that, too. So, as DT continues to scale their mission to serve the LGBTQ community in the Bronx, Stonewall will proudly continue mobilizing and committing resources to that effort.

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Daniel Padnos, Board Member