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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
September 1, 2006

Feds pony up $2.2 million for youth center, Mpowerment

Cleveland--The Beyond Identities Community Center, a youth drop-in center that provides social, educational and life skills support for LGBT youth of color, will remain vibrant for at least another five years, thanks to a $2.2 million government grant.

The AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland, the parent organization of BICC, received the five-year grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The money, which gives the Taskforce $450,000 a year, will also be used to implement the Mpowerment program, described by Taskforce executive director Earl Pike as �a community-based social networking community empowerment program that seeks to strengthen the target community�s norms and resources around safer sex.�

The Mpowerment program is already in use in Dayton through the AIDS Resource Center Ohio. Its efforts there are aimed generally at gay and bisexual men.

In Cleveland, the program will target LGBT youth of color, and will be run through BICC.

According to Pike, Mpowerment is one of about a dozen programs that the CDC has field-tested and deemed effective in multiple locations.

�The CDC has developed a list of 10 or 12 programs that have shown repeated and widespread positive results,� he said, noting that Mpowerment is in use �in around a dozen places around the country.�

�Mpowerment intervention will be embedded in BICC, thereby expanding the reach of BICC,� he noted.

BICC, which was founded in 2004 and emerged from the dissolution of BlackOut Unlimited�s Club 1722 youth program, provides a safe social space for LGBT youth, primarily African American and Latino.

In addition to creating their own social programming, like the Lights, Camera, Action! mini-ball last month as part of the Black, Gay and Proud Celebration, attendees are also given workshops on r�sum� writing and other skills they will need in their adult lives.

After a year in a half in their original location on Superior, BICC found itself too large and moved into a new space on East 36th Street.

While Pike is thrilled with the grant, he warns that it is not a panacea.

�The truth is that funding for care and services for those already living with HIV/AIDS is flat--or in per-patient terms, actually declining,� he noted. �We need to continue to advocate for the services individuals and families living with HIV/AIDS need to stay healthy--services such as food and nutritional support, housing, transportation, psychosocial support and case management, and medication access.�



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