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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Youth summit attendee creates resource website
by Matt Simonette
2014-06-25

This article shared 3061 times since Wed Jun 25, 2014
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While attending the Windy City Times Summit on LGBT Youth Homelessness in May, activist Alison Stanton was struck by a statement made by one of the youths in attendance: "We don't even know what's available to us."

So Stanton took matters into her own hands to help. She used her participation in the National Day of Civic Hacking, or "hackathon," as an opportunity to create a website that aggregates information about what resources can be accessed for LGBT youths in need of assistance.

"There were many stories we heard [at the summit], about youths being sent from one place to another," noted Stanton, who works as a data scientist. Many participants said that, even when their communities did offer resources to homeless youths, they still had to rely on word of mouth in order to find out when, where and how they could actually access those resources.

She said that she knew little about youth homelessness going into the summit, and she took part to better understand the issues involved. "It shocked me to learn that so many homeless youth are LGBT—the first thing our society should be doing is looking out for our youth."

Furthermore, what she thought to be even more frustrating is that, "Those are people that need to be helped that we are capable of helping."

Stanton thus put her own expertise to work. "I have long considered myself an LGBT activist. I have a technical background, and I often look for ways to help nonprofits."

The National Day of Civic Hacking, which this year took place May 31-June 1, is a weekend-long, nationwide event wherein participants from government, business and technology sectors, among many others, come together to devise and implement projects that utilize open data, with a goal of creating "innovative civic projects … aimed at building a more transparent, accessible government, while seeding and growing communities of innovation across the nation," according to its website.

Before the event, Stanton tried to access as much information as she could about available resources for homeless LGBT youth. "It was easy to put together. I just used the Internet primarily, and compiled the data in a Google spreadsheet—I made sure to include anything I could find."

Once the hackathon began, Stanton assembled a team. They began assembling the website at around 11 a.m. on May 31, and, working through the night, had the website ready for launch by noon the following day. Among those working with Stanton were Kelsey Ando, Lauren Dorman, Stuart Lynn and Janna ( whose last name was not given ).

The website is at resources.lgbthomelessness.com . There is contact information on the site for service providers to send information about resources they want posted.

Readers can now go to the site, enter some general information and be directed to age-appropriate resources. They can also download a file that puts events and deadlines directly into their online calendar.

Stanton said service providers should also check out the site, and let her know of resources not yet listed—she and her team are going to try to keep the site as up to date as possible.

"Definitely, this is not the end," she said.

The full report from the homeless summit will be available this week at chicagosummit.lgbthomelessness.com/ .


This article shared 3061 times since Wed Jun 25, 2014
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