A Brief Overview:
The history of Youth First Texas begins with the Youth Services Advisory Panel (YSAP). YSAP was made of representatives from groups that worked with LGBTQ youth, including staff from the Oak Lawn Community Services and the Walt Whitman Community School, along with volunteers from the Cathedral of Hope, the Resource Center, the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance, and PFLAG.
It was clear to these individuals that youth in the community were in need of services, but a quick overview of LGBTQ agencies revealed that the youth were not a priority; there was little to no money being set aside for youth programming.
Through work with a consultant in the summer of 1999, it was decided that an organization whose mission was to provide youth services needed to be formed, and in November of 1999, Youth First Texas was incorporated.
Our organization began by renting space in the Resource Center before moving to loaned space from the Cathedral of Hope. From there, we moved to leasing space at 5415 Maple Avenue, and recently, in conjunction with the celebration of our “Decade of Difference,” we moved to our new rented facility at 3918 Harry Hines Blvd.
Part of what makes Youth First Texas unique is that we strive to be youth-run and youth-led as an organization. One of our core values is to have youth involved in every decision; there is a Youth Board that makes all decisions related to programming, and youth are encouraged to have leadership in all of the programs and make their voices heard on the Executive Board.
It is our goal to be the premiere youth agency in North Texas. When someone has a question with regards to LGBTQ youth, we are called. When there is a youth event, mainstream or in the LGBTQ community, we are included. It is also our goal to have ongoing relationships with mainstream youth agencies to provide training and consultation.
A Timeline of Youth First Texas:
- Summer 1999: Met with consultant John Eger to discuss how several groups from several different organizations could come together and provide comprehensive services for LGBTQ youth.
- September 1999: Decided that the only way to provide comprehensive services to LGBTQ youth is to create a separate organization whose sole mission is to help LGBTQ youth.
- November 1999: Incorporated. The Board of Directors included Bob Ivancic, Emilia Menthe, Bob Miskinis and Daryl Parker. The first Strategic Board Retreat resulted in the creation of the mission statement.
- Also in November 1999: received 501(c)3 status and had a fundraising concert with The Women’s Chorus of Dallas and The Turtle Creek Chorale with special guest speaker, Judy Shepherd.
- October 2000: 11 youth took a trip to Washington, D.C. for NYAC Youth Leadership Conference.
- November 2000: the formation of drama group “Out There Productions.” Also began work on the Mentor Program.
- December 2000: began the training series for Dallas Independent School District’s Youth and Family Center Directors.
- April 2001: the birth of the Youth Leadership Board.
- May 2001: began a Female Support Group on Friday nights.
- September 2001: the grand opening of the YFT Youth Center.
- July 2002: conducted training with DISD Guidance Counselors.
- September 2002: formed the first High School Age Support Group.
- November 2002: the grand opening of the NEW Youth Center at 5415 Maple Ave.
- February 2003: formed the first Transgender Youth Group.
- May 2003: attended the NYAC National Youth Summit.
- September 2008: the youth choir, Dallas PUMP! launches.
- Also in September 2008: Youth First Texas marches in the 2008 Alan Ross Freedom Parade as the sole beneficiary.
- November 2008: Youth First Texas receives $34,074 from the Dallas Black Tie Dinner.
- April 2009: the youth choir, Dallas PUMP! travels to Vancouver and participates in “Sing for the Cure.”
- June 2009: the first edition of the Queer Subtext Literary Journal is published, featuring literary and artistic contributions from the youth.
- July 2009: YFT puts on the Gaytona 500, featuring local chef Blythe Beck of Central 214.
- August 2009: put on the First Annual Give ‘Em Heel Fashion Show.
- September 2009: youth take part in the National No H8 Campaign.
- October 2009: six youth, along with two chaperones, travel to Washington, D.C. for the National Equality March.
- November 2009: the grand opening of the NEW Youth Center at 3918 Harry Hines Blvd.
- December 2009: youth help to launch the Bully Suicide Project.
- February 2010: youth attended, volunteered and performed at the 22nd Annual Creating Change Conference.
- April 2010: youth take part in a nationally recognized flash mob as part of the National Day of Silence.
- June 2010: the first Lavender Graduation and Pancake Breakfast is held at Youth First Texas.
- July 2010: the Second Annual Give ‘Em Heel Fashion Show is held in the Rose Room at S4.
And the list keeps on growing!!!