IECN | Contributed
Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes (D-Riverside) announced today that she secured more than $3 million in the state budget signed by Governor Gavin Newsom to support the launch of the Inland Empire LGBTQ Resource Center, powered by TruEvolution, with locations in the city of Riverside and Southwest Riverside county, as well as a first-of-its-kind fund in the region to invest in inland LGBTQ community organizations with capacity building, training, and programming support. The centers will serve residents throughout Riverside and San Bernardino counties and provide a safe space and community facilities for LGBTQ led and serving groups to gather and meet.
The launch of the Inland Empire LGBTQ Resource Center comes at a critical time in the fight for LGBTQ equality across the country and locally. The Supreme Court just dealt a blow to LGBT rights by allowing certain businesses to refuse to provide services for same-sex weddings. According to a report released by the California Attorney General in June, hate crimes against LGBTQ Californians have risen by 29% between 2021 and 2022. Legislation introduced in California this year also took aim at outing transgender and nonbinary students and an Inland city’s school board voted to reject including LGBTQ leader Harvey Milk in social studies curriculum.
Co-founded in 2023 by Inland Empire natives and community leaders Assemblymember Cervantes, TruEvolution CEO Gabriel Maldonado, and Equality California Advisory Board Member Jesse Melgar, the Inland Empire LGBTQ Resource Center will be headquartered at the Project Legacy campus in Downtown Riverside and as an initiative of TruEvolution. A second site will open in Southwest Riverside County next year – a part of the region that lacks strong infrastructure and support for LGBTQ individuals and families.
“The new Inland Empire LGBTQ Resource Center powered by TruEvolution and the services provided in Southwest Riverside County will stand as a bulwark against the persecution, discrimination, and violence still faced by the LGTBQ+ community on a daily basis in our region,” said Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes.“I want to thank TruEvolution for being essential partners in securing this $3.063 million in state funding, and in fighting for the equal rights and dignity for the LGBTQ+ community in the Inland Empire.
“The Inland Empire is one of the fastest growing parts of our state and home to a significant LGBTQ population who remain under attack in many portions of the region,” said Tony Hoang, executive director of Equality California. “I applaud Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes for fighting to secure $3 million dollars to establish the Inland Empire LGBTQ Resource Center in Riverside and Southwest Riverside County, and creating an Inland Empire LGBTQ Empowerment Fund to support emerging organizations providing critical services to our communities in Riverside and San Bernardino counties on the ground daily.”
“For years, TruEvolution has worked alongside our sisters and brothers in the LGBTQ community to fight for our communities in a region that lacks sufficient support,” said TruEvolution CEO Gabriel Maldonado.“Under Assemblymember Cervantes’ transformative leadership, we will not only be able to open an LGBTQ Resource Center in downtown Riverside, but will also open one in Southwest Riverside County where we know members of our community lack strong support. We will support anyone and everyone – in both Riverside and San Bernardino counties – who need it.
“This funding is urgent and long overdue, especially as the Inland Empire’s LGBTQ community continues to grow while infrastructure and support for our communities hasn’t,” said Inland Empire LGBTQ Resource Center co-founder Jesse Melgar. “Thanks to Assemblymember Cervantes’ leadership and TruEvolution’s path breaking work in our region, we are able to make the Inland Empire LGBTQ Resource Center a reality for our community. We intend on working with philanthropic partners for ongoing, sustained funding, in the years to come to make the center a vibrant focal point and point of pride for everyone in the LGBTQ community to call their own.”
The funding will support the following:
Inland Empire LGBTQ Resource Center Riverside Headquarters – $1 million will cover construction and renovation costs at the downtown Riverside headquarters located at TruEvolution’s new Project Legacy campus, which will also serve as a community meeting space for LGBTQ community organizations throughout the region. Funding will support staffing needs, the creation of an LGBTQ community meeting space, and capital investments for the community, such as computer and media lab use for LGBTQ organizations.
Inland Empire LGBTQ Resource Center, Southwest Riverside County – $1 million will support securing a community resource center to be opened. This will also cover staffing needs and support for LGBTQ communities throughout Southwest Riverside County.
Inland Empire LGBTQ Resource Center Community Grant Initiative – $1 million will help seed a new fund to support capacity building for the limited number of emerging LGBTQ community organizations serving Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
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