Philanthropy Friday: The Attic Youth Center

Every Friday we spotlight a local LGBT nonprofit in Philadelphia. This week, The Attic Youth Center, an organization that works to create opportunities for and promote the acceptance of Philadelphia LGBTQ youth. 

Who are you? Alyssa Mutryn, director of development at The Attic Youth Center.

When was The Attic founded? The Attic was founded in 1993 by our current Executive Director, Dr. Carrie Jacobs.  When she was in graduate school, she worked in partnership with some other grad students to start a support group for LGBTQ youth in the “attic” of a social service organization. It was only supposed to be an eight-week group, but 41 youth were involved and she had to keep it going! There were no other support systems for LGBTQ youth in the ’90s, so it was important to keep The Attic alive. Now, 21 years later, we are located in a four-story row home, and between 40-70 youth, ages 14-23, come to The Attic each day. Our programming has also expanded over the years to include not only support groups, but an array of programming such as youth leadership, career readiness, arts and culture, health and wellness, academic enrichment, mental health, and education and training to improve the climate and support systems for LGBTQ youth through our Bryson Institute.

Attic youth and staff at Philly Pride.

Attic youth and staff at Philly Pride.

One-sentence mission statement: The Attic creates opportunities for LGBTQ youth to develop into healthy, independent, civic-minded adults within a safe and supportive community, and promotes the acceptance of LGBTQ youth in society.

What’s The Attic’s shining moment to date? It is hard to pick just one, because, in all seriousness, there are shining moments here every single day.  But for me, one of them was our 20th Anniversary Gala.  Over 600 people attended, including a lot of Attic youth and Attic alumni. It was amazing to see how much The Attic has grown over 20 years and how many lives have been changed because of the organization. A group of youth created videos to show at the gala called Through Our Eyes that describe how The Attic impacts their lives. They are so creative, and they demonstrate how everyone has a different story to tell. You can watch them here.

Carrie Jacobs, Attic youth performer Glad'is Sugar Rush, and Alyssa Mutryn

Carrie Jacobs, Attic youth performer Glad’is Sugar Rush, and Alyssa Mutryn

If a check for $1 million found its way to my doorstep … First, I would probably scream. Then, we would put it toward a new building that would allow us the space to expand and grow.  There are so many things we could do if we only had the space. We want to build a youth-led business, for example, a print shop, a day care center, or a coffee shop, where LGBTQ youth could have long-term, paid job opportunities and a portion of the revenue would go towards supporting The Attic.  We need to expand our therapy program for LGBTQ youth and families and our current building only has two small therapy offices.  We want a performance space to host events, shows, and trainings. We do so much right now in such a small space, but we could provide LGBTQ youth with even more opportunities if we had more room.

Special events coming up? Our next event that is open to the public is Sweethearts and Redhots, our annual youth drag show fundraiser, which is on the evening of February 20th, 2015.  Our youth work for six months to create the most incredible drag show you will ever see. For many, it is their first time doing drag, but for some, this is their 4th or 5th year in the show. Also, I am sure we are the only organization in the area that offers drag as part of its after-school programming.  Awesome, right? Follow The Attic’s Facebook page to stay up to date.

I’m strapped for cash; are there other ways to support The Attic? Yes.  We are currently collecting new hats, scarves, and gloves to distribute to Attic youth over the holiday season and throughout the winter.  Pick some up when you are holiday shopping and drop them off here at The Attic. We also regularly need volunteers to either drop off or cook meals.  We serve dinner every night, and some people rely on this meal as their only meal of the day.  We have some awesome local restaurants that donate (shout out to Giorgio on Pine and Oyster House!) and some dedicated staff and volunteers who cook, but food is always needed and we always have room for more people or restaurants who want to help out.

I’m flush; how can I donate money? By visiting our website, by mailing a check to 255 S. 16th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102, or by just dropping in. You are welcome to come by, meet some Attic youth and staff, and learn more about our programming.

Follow the Attic Youth Center on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Are you a local LGBT-serving nonprofit that would like to be spotlighted in Philanthropy Friday? Email Samantha Giusti at