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Boston-based GED Program Launches for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Youth

Saturday Apr 12, 2008

It's tough enough to be a teenager today, but for Boston teens who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, it can be traumatic. They often deal with homophobic bullying, have alarmingly high school-dropout rates, and many are homeless.

But a unique new program created by Justice Resource Institute (JRI), a nonprofit provider that advocates on behalf of children and adults who experience the greatest barriers to social justice, may give these young people hope.

"A Gateway To Success" was launched today by JRI's Boston Gay & Lesbian Adolescent Social Services (Boston GLASS) Center, with the help of Verizon and IBM.

JRI received a $75,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation and 10 new computers from IBM to support the new initiative, which that will provide workshops to help these young people complete their GEDs.

The program will prepare students by using Thinkfinity.org, the Verizon Foundation's free, comprehensive online portal that features 55,000 educational resources. They include standards-based, grade-specific K-12 lesson plans and interactive tools and materials provided in partnership with many of the nation's leading educational organizations.

"We are grateful for the partnership with the Verizon Foundation and IBM," said Douglas M. Brooks, Vice President of Health Services for JRI. "In many cases, these teens have been forced to leave their homes, and for many of them their education ends when they leave their communities and must devote their time to supporting themselves.

"The support this grant provides will make a meaningful difference in the lives of a diverse group of young people who struggle daily for acceptance and are denied access to basic tools of survival such as a high school education."

Boston GLASS will be the first community-based setting to have a formal agreement with Verizon to use the Thinkfinity program to prepare students for the GED tests to obtain a high school equivalency diploma.

"We understand how important it is for people to have a high school education," said Donna C. Cupelo, Verizon region president of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. "Thinkfinity provides an online platform for students to get the education and training they need to get their GED. We are pleased to partner with IBM, JRI Health and Boston GLASS to use these technology resources to make a difference in the lives of these young people."

"In a global and diverse world, it is important to ensure our young people are educated," said Cathleen Finn, IBM corporate citizenship manager. "Enabling our city's youth to get a basic education can create the foundation they need to build skills and eventually secure meaningful employment."

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