CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Center
CenterLink was founded in 1994 as a member-based coalition to support the development of strong, sustainable LGBT community centers. The organization plays an important role in supporting the growth of LGBT centers and addressing the challenges they face, by helping them to improve their organizational and service delivery capacity and increase access to public resources. Based in Fort Lauderdale, FL, CenterLink works with other national organizations to advance the rights of LGBT individuals and to provide LGBT community centers with information and analysis of key issues.
Serving over 200 LGBT community centers across the country in 45 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, as well as centers in Canada, China, and Australia, CenterLink assists newly forming community centers and helps strengthen existing LGBT centers, through networking opportunities for center leaders, peer-based technical assistance and training, and a variety of capacity building services. Our efforts are based on the belief that LGBT community centers are primary change agents in the national movement working toward the liberation and empowerment of LGBT people. Serving over 2 million people annually, they are the heart and soul of the LGBT movement and are vital to our current well-being and dreams for the future. Whether they provide direct services, educate the public or organize for social change, community centers work more closely with their LGBT constituency and engage more community leaders and decision-makers than any other LGBT network in the country.
Centers serve a vital and multi-faceted role in many communities across the country. They are often the only staffed non-profit LGBT presence in the area and the first point of contact for people seeking information, coming out, accessing services or organizing for social change. Over 60% of LGBT centers provide some direct health services (including counseling, peer-led programs, and support groups, as well as physical health and other mental health services). At the same time, LGBT community centers remain thinly staffed, with over 30% operating with no paid staff, relying solely on volunteers; and over 60% employing five or fewer paid staff.
A fundamental goal of our mission is to help build the capacity of centers to meet the social, cultural, health and political advocacy needs of LGBT community members across the country. CenterLink also acts as a voice for LGBT community centers in national grassroots organizing, coalition building and social activism in order to strengthen and build a unified center movement.