Apple is teaming up with Encircle, a nonprofit that provides community resource houses to LGBTQ+ youth and their families. Apple will be donating $1 million and contributing products that “promote digital connection” to the organization, while Apple CEO Tim Cook will serve as an honorary co-chair.

Encircle’s motto is “no sides, only love,” and it was created with the goal of “bringing together families and communities, to enable LGBTQ+ youth to thrive.”

Encircle operates houses in Utah that offer a variety of services to LGBTQ+ youth, including programs, mental health services, support groups, and safe spaces. The organization has served over 70,000 individuals since its founding in 2017. Stephenie Larsen, CEO & founder of Encircle, says that the organization has not lost a single youth to suicide:

We are extremely grateful that these global leaders see the vision of the profound work we are doing for LGBTQ+ youth and families throughout our communities.

Studies repeatedly have shown that LGBTQ+ youth across the country struggle with depression and suicidality far more than their heterosexual peers, and the pandemic has made that sense of isolation so many feel harder than ever before. We strive to give these kids a positive and loving environment that builds support within their communities where they can realize their full potential, and it works – we have not lost a single youth to suicide. This incredible support makes our nationwide expansion possible and will improve countless LGBTQ+ lives – reminding them that they are perfect, just as they are.

The nonprofit is today launching a new “$8 Million, 8 Houses” campaign, which will establish eight new encircle homes in four states: Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, and Utah. These eight houses will join Encircle’s existing three homes in Utah, located in Provo, Salt Lake City, and St. George, as well as a fourth under construction in Heber.

Apple will make a $1 million contribution to Encircle’s new campaign. The company will also be donating iPads and other products to help expand Encircle’s virtual programming and inspire new pathways for digital connection, creativity, and education.

In a statement, Cook said that LGBTQ+ people should feel “safe and supported” enough to feel “open about who they are.” Encircle, he explained, helps bridge these divides and bring communities together. Cook also visited organization’s Provo house. Cook said:

All LGBTQ+ people should feel safe and supported enough to be open about who they are with their community and themselves. Encircle is helping to bridge divides and bring people together — sending a powerful message that the greatest thing you can aspire to become is who you truly are. It’s my hope that every young person who feels alone or unsupported can find connection and community at this incredible organization.

Alongside Apple and Tim Cook, Qualtrics founder and Utah Jazz owners Ryan and Ashley Smith will contribute $2 million. Imagine Dragons’ lead singer Dan Reynolds and his wife, recording artist Aja Volkman, will donate Dan’s childhood home, valued at $1 million, in Las Vegas.

Apple has also shared a new post on its Newsroom website highlighting the story of Micah Toelupe, who credits Encircle with saving his life.

“The effect it had here is so insane,” says Micah. “It really did save my life. You could walk right into the house and be surrounded by people who are going to love and respect who you are. It was always there, and you were always welcome.”

Luckily for the Toelupes, Encircle opened a house in Provo, Utah, in 2017, just 20 minutes from their home. And while there were some local resources for young LGBTQ+ people, few had such a profound impact on their family and neighbors across Utah County.

You can read the full press release from Apple on its Newsroom website. The full press release from Encircle is embedded below.

National Expansion of Groundbreaking LGBTQ+ Youth Centers Supported by Apple, Ryan Smith and Dan Reynolds

Apple, Qualtrics founder and Utah Jazz owners Ryan and Ashley Smith, and Imagine Dragons’ Dan Reynolds and his wife Aja Volkman commit initial funds to open 8 new Encircle homes in 4 states  

SALT LAKE CITY (February 25, 2021) — Encircle, a pioneering nonprofit that provides community resource houses to LGBTQ+ youth and their families, today announced a major new expansion backed by a group of leaders representing tech, sports, and entertainment. Together, they are supporting Encircle’s efforts to build new partnerships among a broad coalition of allies and advocates to provide programs, mental health services, support groups, and safe spaces to young LGBTQ+ people and their families throughout the US.

Studies show that despite facing much higher rates of depression and attempted suicide, many LGBTQ+ youth nationwide struggle to access therapy and mental health services. Since its founding in 2017, Encircle has served over 70,000 individuals and funded thousands of family and youth therapy sessions, providing a lifeline to those facing suicidality, isolation, and depression, helping them build local community and forge a path forward. It’s been an especially urgent need during the pandemic, which has cut off many more young people from their friends and other support systems outside the home.

Encircle, whose motto is “no sides, only love,” was created with the goal of bringing  together families and communities, to enable LGBTQ+ youth to thrive. To further that vision and reach even more people, today Encircle is launching a new “$8 Million, 8 Houses” capital campaign, which will establish eight new Encircle homes in four states: Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, and Utah. Encircle already has three Utah homes in Provo, Salt Lake City and St. George, and a fourth under construction in Heber. 

To jumpstart the campaign, Qualtrics founder and Utah Jazz owners Ryan and Ashley Smith will contribute $2 million, and Imagine Dragons’ lead singer Dan Reynolds and his wife, recording artist Aja Volkman will donate Dan’s childhood home–valued at $1 million–in Las Vegas. In addition, Apple will donate $1 million and contribute products that promote digital connection, creativity and education. Apple CEO Tim Cook, Ryan and Ashley Smith, and Dan Reynolds and Aja Volkman will also serve as honorary co-chairs of Encircle’s new campaign, supporting the non-profit’s expanding efforts to build community, acceptance and understanding for young LGBTQ+ people and their families. 

“All LGBTQ+ people should feel safe and supported enough to be open about who they are with their community and themselves,” said Cook, who has visited the organization’s Provo house. “Encircle is helping to bridge divides and bring people together — sending a powerful message that the greatest thing you can aspire to become is who you truly are. It’s my hope that every young person who feels alone or unsupported can find connection and community at this incredible organization.” 

“Ashley and I have seen the amazing work Encircle does to benefit LGBTQ+ youth. We’re grateful for the opportunity to contribute to their mission of creating more inclusive communities and providing much needed hope and support to youth,” said Ryan Smith. “Encircle is an incredible example of the entrepreneurial spirit and drive that motivates people to create a better, more accepting world. Working with Tim Cook, Apple and Dan and Aja on the ‘$8 Million, 8 Houses’ campaign to improve the experience of LGBTQ+ youth is just the beginning. Encircle’s innovative and loving approach is a model that can and should be adopted globally.”

“Encircle is about bringing young LGBTQ+ people and their families together, by including the community and strengthening the bonds that connect us,” said Dan Reynolds and Aja Volkman. “Being a part of this organization means so much to both of us — and we know the house Dan grew up in will be a loving and supportive home to every young LGBTQ+ person who crosses the threshold.”

“We are extremely grateful that these global leaders see the vision of the profound work we are doing for LGBTQ+ youth and families throughout our communities,” said Stephenie Larsen, CEO & Founder of Encircle. “Studies repeatedly have shown that LGBTQ+ youth across the country struggle with depression and suicidality far more than their heterosexual peers, and the pandemic has made that sense of isolation so many feel harder than ever before. We strive to give these kids a positive and loving environment that builds support within their communities where they can realize their full potential, and it works – we have not lost a single youth to suicide. This incredible support makes our nationwide expansion possible and will improve countless LGBTQ+ lives – reminding them that they are perfect, just as they are.”

“Encircle is a visionary organization. We cannot overstate the impact they are having on the lives of young people who struggle daily with acceptance and inclusion,” said Utah Governor Spencer Cox. “We are grateful for the impact Encircle has had in our communities and are excited to see their leadership and vision expanding nationwide. The commitment Tim, Ryan and Ashley, and Dan and Aja have shown to the LGBTQ+ community by supporting this cause is inspiring. I will do everything in my power to share that same sense of love and commitment with LGBTQ+ youth everywhere.”

For more information about Encircle or the campaign, please visit: www.encircletogether.or

About Encircle 

Serving LGBTQ+ youth since February 2017, Encircle: LGBTQ+ Family and Youth Center,  has functioned as a welcoming presence to LGBTQ+ youth and their families. Founded in Utah, Encircle is taking their innovative program to Arizona, Idaho, and Nevada in its initial expansion with the goal of implementing the program nationwide. With the purpose of addressing the loneliness and high rates of suicide frequently experienced among LGBTQ+ youth and young adults, the nonprofit offers love and support. This is accomplished through providing individual and family therapy, support groups, and a safe space to young LGBTQ+ people throughout the US. Learn more about Encircle at www.EncircleTogether.org.

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