For many LGBT youth, especially those living on their own, Internet access is a lifeline: providing communication, places to live, job opportunities. The White House and the nonprofit David Bohnett Foundation recently launched a program to ensure disadvantaged queer youth will never be out of work because a computer is out of their reach.
The White House announced last week it was launching the Summer Jobs+ Initiative to help tens of thousands of youth find jobs or internships though a public-private partnership involving 95 companies and 300,000 jobs and mentorships. The initiative utilizes an online search tool that helps connect young people to career opportunities this summer and year round.
"The Summer Jobs+ Bank will house every employment opportunity available through the program -- any job, internship, or mentoring position can be 'tagged' to ensure that the listing is discoverable in the system," the White House explained in a press release. "It then allows any website to become a search vehicle with an embeddable widget that provides a single window into the initiative's job pool."
The David Bohnett Foundation, the philanthropic organization founded by Internet entrepreneur David Bohnett, is helping facilitate the White House initiative through its CyberCenters. The foundation helped establish 60 computer centers across the nation, often located in the LGBT centers of urban areas, from Tulsa to Los Angeles.
The foundation's executive director, Michael Fleming,, is a member of the White House Council for Community Solutions, and he was instrumental in establishing the Summer Jobs+ Initiative. Now that it's in place, he says the David Bohnett CyberCenters will encourage users to utilize the system to find jobs and internships.
"We've long known about the all-too-high rates of 'disconnection' suffered by LGBT youth and as my White House Council colleagues and I focused on steps to connect all of youth to meaningful education and employment, including the Summer Jobs Bank, I made it a priority to make certain that the challenges facing LGBT youth were understood and included," Fleming tells The Advocate. "Our David Bohnett CyberCenters have been a national model for using technology to connect our community to work, education, and family, and I'm confident that they will play an important role in the success of the Summer Jobs Bank."