The social impact organization one∙n∙ten reached a milestone as it celebrates 25 years of serving LGBTQ. Its past successes inspire new executive director and North Central Phoenix resident, Nate Rhoton, 39, to get even more innovative and collaborative with its programs and services.
Founded to provide a safe space for every young LGBTQ individual as they either come out to their families, face bullying or other challenges in society, one∙n∙ten hasn’t strayed from its original purpose. Rhoton and his board are focused on the future with a new strategic plan that will leverage long-standing partnerships and develop new ones to advance key areas of focus—specifically, the group’s mentoring program and housing homeless youth.
The Youth Education & Success Workforce Development, or YES! Program, has served 136 individuals over the last four years with 84 percent job placement success. Working with partners including Synchrony Financial, Charles Schwab and Bank of America, along with feedback from the young adults one∙n∙ten serves, its financial literacy training will be refined to focus on everyday money management skills and continue to support youth in building their self-esteem and leadership skills.
The housing problem is more complicated. With no funding for youth housing available from Arizona, it has taken a great many people and organizations to find a way to get LGBTQ youth off the street. If not, life on the street can quickly result in sex trafficking, drug use and other challenges that add to their plight. Thanks to former executive director Linda Elliott, who initiated the one∙n∙ten Promise of a New Day Supportive Housing (POND) program, more than 100 youth have found a safe space they can call home.
Despite those successes, Rhoton is faced with tackling the wait list of 94 young people who are seeking a safe place to sleep at night. “Housing is such a tough issue here in the state. It’s going to require us to work harder with our partners and forge new partnerships to help our young people get off the street to get them back on track and focused on their education or careers,” Rhoton said.
Forty percent of youth who are homeless identify as LGBTQ. It costs $10,000 a year to provide youth housing and all of the associated support services.
After a fire last summer damaged one∙n∙ten’s longtime home, the nonprofit organization found a large new space inside the Parsons Center for Health & Wellness, located at 1101 N. Central Ave. For more information about programs, services, partnerships and volunteer opportunities, visit www.onenten.org or call 602-400-2601.