The work to create a more equal world is a collaborative effort, which is why Western Digital has partnered with the nonprofit organization True Colors United in support of its mission to end homelessness among LGBTQ youth.
True Colors United was founded in 2008 by Cyndi Lauper, Lisa Barbaris, Jonny Podell, and Gregory Lewis. The group had grown concerned about rising numbers of LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness. Compelled to take action on the issue, they began reaching out to service providers across the country to learn more.
As Jeff Katz, senior director at True Colors United, shared, “They kept on hearing from all these service providers that we need somebody at the top level to help direct attention, funds, and programming, so that a young person experiencing homelessness could walk into a shelter in any city, and they would have safe care, they would have equitable services, and they would be in a safe space.”
Katz underscored the urgency of this work. “The stat we often go to is 7% of the youth population in the U.S. identifies as LGBTQ, yet 40% of the youth experiencing homelessness in America right now is LGBTQ,” he said.
“We’ve focused on LGBTQ youth because that population is disproportionately affected by homelessness—but really, we are looking out for any young person experiencing homelessness.”
True Colors United provides programming in four areas: training and education, advocacy, youth action, and technical assistance, in which consultants from the nonprofit collaborate with key stakeholders in communities on policies and best practices.
The nonprofit’s training and education programs focus on equipping service providers, such as shelters and drop-in centers, with resources that help address the needs of the community.
“We are working with them to ensure that their services are safe and accessible to LGBTQ youth, to make sure that everyone is up to date on the proper ways to be delivering care,” said Katz.
Another core portion of the nonprofit’s work is dedicated to advocacy. “We do everything from working with local infrastructure on how to address the needs of the population to going all the way up to Congress,” said Katz.
A guiding principle behind True Colors United’s approach is the belief that its solutions should be informed by the community it serves. To this end, the nonprofit created the National Youth Forum on Homelessness, a program that centers on bringing in the perspectives of members of the community to shape policy.
“[The Forum] takes young people with lived experience and puts them in a leadership position to be driving change around the country,” said Katz.
“Honoring someone who has been in this situation and letting them be in a place of leadership and be thoughtful about solutions that should be considered is important to us.”
Being part of the solution
In his role at True Colors United, Katz leads fundraising efforts. He considers partnerships to be a valuable way to bring additional visibility to the issue. “It’s important to find partners like Western Digital, who are willing to say, ‘We believe in this cause; we believe in these young people,’” said Katz.
As part of Western Digital’s partnership with True Colors United, the company is making a donation to the nonprofit.
For Pete Isgrigg, channel marketing specialist at Western Digital, the company’s partnership with True Colors United is especially meaningful. Isgrigg has been a longtime supporter of True Colors United. “[It’s an organization] that’s been near and dear to my heart,” said Isgrigg.
Over the years, Isgrigg had supported True Colors United through his own personal contributions. When he joined Western Digital and became a member of We.Equal, an Employee Resource Group that seeks to fortify a community for LGBTQ employees and allies, Isgrigg discovered a platform to make an impact on a larger scale.
“I brought the opportunity to partner with True Colors United to the group, and I’ve been leading the partnership,” said Isgrigg. “The reach of what I can do and the people I can affect have increased since I joined the company and became part of We.Equal.”
Through his involvement, Isgrigg aims to continue to help advocate for the causes that he believes in. “I recognize the extreme value of the services [True Colors United provides] and what they can do and how they can help the LGBTQ community,” he said.
A similar desire to make a difference guided Katz to True Colors United. Prior to joining True Colors United, Katz worked in service provision for nearly a decade, working with youth experiencing homelessness.
He emphasized the need for continued attention and action. “That’s why I believe in True Colors United. We have so much more work to do,” said Katz. “I want to be part of the solution.”
In celebration of Pride Month, Western Digital is offering its SanDisk Ultra® Dual Drive Go USB Type-C™, Rainbow Pride Edition.
This drive is the second iteration of the company’s drive designed to celebrate Pride Month, and its marketing assets showcase this year’s partnership with True Colors United, displaying the company’s statements of support for the nonprofit’s work.