Y2Y Harvard Square and Fenway Health’s Youth on Fire receive $1 million endowment to shelter, feed, and counsel at-risk young adults

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Oct. 11, 2022—Prospects look brighter today for Boston-area youth and young adults facing homelessness, street involvement, and health challenges, thanks to a million-dollar gift to Y2Y Harvard Square and Youth on Fire, which share space in Harvard Square. The endowment from Karen and Rob Hale through their family foundation, Fox Rock Foundation, will fuel the work of these nonprofits far into the future.

Y2Y Harvard Square is the nation’s first young-adult-led homeless shelter, offering 22 beds, meals, health care, and life skills to young adults 18 to 24. Youth on Fire, a program of Fenway Health, is a drop-in food, health, and housing-referral center for homeless and street-involved youth ages 14 to 24.

Meeting growing challenges

More than 150 young adults in the Boston area have no sleeping arrangements for tonight, and that number is growing, according to Cameron Van Fossen, Executive Director of the Y2Y Network. “We are so grateful to the Hale family for this generous gift,” Van Fossen said. “It means the most vulnerable young adults will find a safe, warm, friendly place to stay when they desperately need it, and more young adults will access pathways out of homelessness.”

Youth on Fire serves over 200 young adults who make over 3,000 visits to Youth on Fire every year, a rate that has doubled in the last two years. “Youth on Fire provides young people with needed services, essential support, and real opportunities to help them in their efforts to live safer, healthier, more fulfilling lives,” said Fenway Health Chief Executive Officer Ellen LaPointe. “This incredibly generous gift from the Hales will enable us to expand what we are able to offer and to reach even more young people. We are beyond grateful.”

Young adults with housing challenges and street involvement are at high risk of communicable disease and victimization. Y2Y’s overnight program and Youth on Fire’s daytime program together provide 24/7 attention to guests’ needs. Both organizations are queer/trans-led and provide a welcoming environment for all, including LGBTQIA+ guests.

“Having support at YOF and a safe place to stay at Y2Y made a big difference for me,” said one client, Chris, 22. “It gave me the foundation I needed to make the progress I have.”

The gift is part of a Fox Rock Foundation initiative to award a million-dollar endowment to a worthy organization every week in 2022. Despite that busy cadence, Y2Y and Youth on Fire hold a special place in the Hale family’s heart. “My family cares deeply about equality and dignity for every human being regardless of their race, gender, orientation, or housing status,” said Brett Hale. “Y2Y and Youth on Fire live out these values every day. Not only are they saving lives but they are helping young people find their footing, stay healthy, and develop their full potential. It’s so inspiring.”

About Y2Y Network

Catalyzing the power of young adults with lived experience in homelessness, in partnership with communities, institutions, providers, and other young adults, Y2Y builds young-adult leadership and connects young adults with spaces and resources that interrupt the cycle of trauma and homelessness in their lives and the lives of others. The shelter serves 18-to-24-year-olds in Greater Boston, and last year sheltered 199 young adults, providing sanctuary, services, and leadership development programming. Guests come to Y2Y from a variety of circumstances, including family struggles. Often they are working or in school and priced out of the escalating housing market. Nearly 2 in 5 guests have been in the foster care system, and approximately 1 in 3 identify as LGBTQ+.

About Youth on Fire

Youth on Fire is a drop-in center for homeless and street-involved youth, ages 14-24, located in Harvard Square. It is a program of Fenway Health’s AIDS Action public health division. Fenway Health advocates for and delivers innovative, equitable, accessible health care, supportive services, and transformative research and education. We center LGBTQIA+ people, BIPOC individuals, and other underserved communities to enable our local, national, and global neighbors to flourish.

About Fox Rock Foundation

Fox Rock Foundation is the private family foundation established by Karen and Rob Hale and their adult children, Trevor, Thomas, and Brett, to inspire health in our communities and our environment, with more opportunity for all. Building on the philanthropy of the Hales and their businesses, Fox Rock Foundation supports a wide variety of organizations within four principal areas of giving: education, health and wellbeing, conservation, and equality.

The Foundation’s current focus is a series of grant partnerships with small and midsized nonprofits making a difference on a variety of causes in New England and beyond. Fox Rock Foundation builds on the philanthropy of Granite Telecommunications, where Rob is founder and CEO, Granite Gives Back, Fox Rock Cares, and other personal giving by the Hales. Through a variety of giving channels, the Hale family has pledged or donated more than $300 million to a broad range of worthy causes.

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