ABOVE: An ALSO, Jr. participant’s handmade Pride flag.
SARASOTA | ALSO Youth has launched ALSO, Jr., a new program designed to support LGBTQ youth ages 10-12.
The nonprofit was founded in 1992 to serve LGBTQ youth ages 13-24 in Sarasota County. It expanded into Manatee County late last year, allowing the organization to provide events, programming and safe spaces for more youth than ever before.
After an extensive interview process, the board welcomed Mickey Stone as its new executive director in June. He entered the role with decades of experience as an educator and program director.
“We are impressed with Mickey’s 20 years of dedication and work with adolescents and his passion for ensuring that all youth have the opportunity to learn and thrive in a safe and supportive environment,” ALSO Youth Board President Mary Tavarozzi shared. “Mickey has strong ties to our community and his energy and creativity will be invaluable as we fully reopen both the Sarasota and Manatee youth centers.”
Stone quickly got to work. He began seeking grants to add one-on-one counseling services and launch ALSO, Jr.
“I knew ALSO needed to be doing more than just offering group counseling,” Stone explains, “and when I first started here, I also got several messages from parents and family members with kids younger than the ages that we typically serve.
“It became a huge priority of mine to start a program for middle school students,” he continues. “That was my grant focus.”
On Oct. 26, ALSO Youth announced it had been awarded $23,920 from the James Franklin Warnell & Dorothy J. Warnell Fund and the McCauley-Brown Fund of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County to support its counseling services. On Oct. 27, a $10,000 mental health initiative grant from the Here4Youth Initiative of the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation and the Gulf Coast Community Foundation followed.
On Oct. 28, $12,000 was awarded from the Bishop-Parker Foundations Fund and Manatee County COVID-19 Community Response Fund of the Manatee Community Foundation. The support allowed them to begin offering counseling for LGBTQ youth ages 10-24 both virtually and in-person.
On Nov. 1, ALSO Youth was awarded $69,190 from the Greenfield Foundation to develop ALSO, Jr., which had begun holding monthly events. The grant allowed the nonprofit to create weekly programs for the younger group, fully staff the events at both drop-in centers and fund the counseling services. It also allowed for a rebranding.
“The Greenfield Foundation is proud to support LGBTQ youth in and around Sarasota,” Greenfield Foundation President Mike Greenfield says. He and his wife Louise Greenfield, longtime residents of Sarasota, formed their foundation to have “a positive ripple effect on the world.”
“ALSO has been a front-runner in supporting LGBTQ people in Sarasota and Manatee for many years,” he continues. “This grant helps the underserved young LGBTQ population address mental health challenges that are too often ignored.”
“I can’t begin to express how much we appreciate the support we’ve gotten from these foundations,” Stone says. “Without that support, we wouldn’t be able to be offering the counseling services that we’re starting to offer and we wouldn’t have been able to start the ALSO, Jr. program and make sure it stays up and running. We couldn’t do it without their help.”
For more information about ALSO Youth, ALSO, Jr. and services offered, visit ALSOYouth.org.