Proud moment: Local pride center gets $120,000 to start internship program for LGBTQ youths

Proud moment: Local pride center gets $120,000 to start internship program for LGBTQ youths
Taking pride: Floyd Rumohr is spearheading an effort at Brooklyn Community Pride Center to create an internship program serving lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer youth. A New York trust recently awarded the center $120,000.
Photo by Zoe Freilich

Talk about taking pride in your work.

Honchos at a city-based trust awarded leaders of a Bedford-Stuyvesant pride center with $120,000 to create a paid-internship program geared specifically towards Kings County’s young LGBTQ professionals, who are largely underserved compared to their counterparts in other boroughs, according to the grant’s author.

“Brooklyn doesn’t really have the service centers for gay and lesbian kids that Manhattan, or even Queens, has,” said Roderick Jenkins, a senior officer for the New York Community Trust’s jobs and youth development grant program.

But the generous sum is just a start, because the paid-internship program’s success will depend on Brooklyn Community Pride Center officials’ ability to create a network of employers willing to hire LGBTQ interns, the facility’s executive director said.

“The big question I have is what is the degree to which employers are going to respond to our appeal to support LGBTQ youth, and work with us,” said Floyd Rumohr.

The program will accommodate 60 young professionals who will first enroll in a four-week training course — for which they will receive a modest stipend — before they begin a $12-per-hour, eight-week internship arranged by pride center honchos.

Participants are also eligible for support from two mental-health therapists at the center, according to Rumohr, who said the pros are on hand to aid with emotional challenges and stresses unique to LGBTQ locals.

“Suicides are still high, homelessness is still high — there are needs here that we’re uniquely positioned to address given our position in the community,” he said.

And college degrees are not a requirement to enroll in the pride center’s internship program, its honcho said, because many young gay, lesbian, queer, and transgender residents face financial struggles that prohibit them from pursuing higher education.

“We don’t want to put that as a barrier, because some of our young people don’t get to college right away because of all types of challenges,” Rumohr said. “Or, when they get there, they struggle because of those reasons.”

The program is still in the planning phase, but the pride center chief said he’s made strides recruiting prospective employers that include finance, real-estate, and charitable businesses, although there are no formal partnerships yet. Rumohr hopes to welcome the center’s first 30 interns later this spring, he said.

New York Community Trust’s grant will subsidize the program for 18 months, according to the local leader, who said he is already talking to other funders, including the Trust, to secure money that will allow it to operate beyond that period.

Rumohr, a gay man who grew up in Detroit in the 1980s, said his own teenage experience inspires his effort to aid a new generation of interns, because if it weren’t for mentors who gave him a leg up back then, he might not be here today.

“One of the reasons I’m here is so I can extend any help I can, just as I was helped as a 16-year-old, poor white kid who was suicidal,” he said. “Now, it’s on me to help the next generation.”

Any young professionals interested in applying for Brooklyn Community Pride Center’s internship program can visit the organization’s website at www.lgbtbrooklyn.org/youth/.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.

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