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Help Create a Viable LGBTI Community in Bulgaria!

by Single Step Foundation
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Help Create a Viable LGBTI Community in Bulgaria!
Help Create a Viable LGBTI Community in Bulgaria!
Help Create a Viable LGBTI Community in Bulgaria!

Dear friends,

On behalf of everyone at Single Step Foundation I would like to wish you a healthy and prosperous new 2020! I would also like to thank you for your continuous support; over the last three years we have been humbled by your generosity and kindness and we could not have made it this far without them. Your support is having tangible real impact in the lives of young LGBTI people in Bulgaria and society in general.

2020 will be a critical year in the life of Single Step. In the fall of 2018 we purchased a property in downtown Sofia which will be the venue of our multifunctional community hub, run as a social enterprise. It will feature a cafe, multifunctional event space, theater, cinema, club, and a safe place for LGBTI youth. All profits will go to ensure the sustainability of the foundation. This is the culmination of several years of working tirelessly to finance such a major endeavor. We received bank financing in the form of a social impact loan from UniCredit Bulbank (the very first such financial instrument in the country) and major support from foundations (including the America for Bulgaria Foundation), corporations and individuals. The opening of the center is scheduled for the spring of 2020, and very soon you will be getting an invitation to attend the opening party and festivities!

We set up a separate fundraiser on GlobalGiving in order to help close the small remaining financing gap. On December 18, we held a fundraising event in New York, hosted by two members of our Advisory Board and dear friends, Bradford Shellhammer and Georgi Balinov. The event was a major success and we managed to raise over $50K.

Our bold project is now almost financed; there only remains a small gap. We will really appreciate your support to help us close it! Below is the link to the GlobalGiving Project “Single Step Community Center – a Social Enterprise”.

http://goto.gg/43029

Thank you! You are my heroes!

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The Community Center – a Social Enterprise

On September 27, 2019, we purchased a property in downtown Sofia which will be the venue of our multifunctional community hub, run as a social enterprise. This is the culmination of several years of working tirelessly to finance such a major endeavor. We received bank financing in the form of a social impact loan from a big Bulgarian bank (the very first such financial instrument in the country). We will be setting up a separate fundraising project on GlobalGiving to help raise the remaining capital needed to renovate and furnish the center.

Boy Erased

We partnered up with Colibri Publishers to publish the acclaimed “Boy Erased” in Bulgarian and with the Cinelibri Film Festival to screen the movie (featuring Nicole Kidman, Russell Crowe and Lucas Hedges, directed by Joel Edgerton) in Bulgaria.  We invited the author of the book, Garrard Conley, to visit Bulgaria for the movie premiere in four cities.  All partners agreed that the proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to support the only comprehensive services for LGBTI youth in Bulgaria, provided by Single Step.

VentureOUT

In May 2019 we launched a career center for young LGBTI people who are just starting their career.  To date, our VentureOUT Manager has had 29 unique clients (60+ consultations), which have resulted in 18 job placements and 6 people continuing their education. In our efforts to scale the initiative, we have partnered up with Capital, the most prominent Bulgarian business publication and the Bulgarian Venture Capital Association.

CampOUT

The CampOUT week-long workshop provided an opportunity for young LGBTI artists, who have already begun their development in one of five genres (music, dance, visual arts, fashion and photography), to gain knowledge and inspiration from successful Bulgarian and international mentors, to feel free and express themselves and to create a joint project within the workshop.  Over 40 works, created during CampOUT – the first summer workshop for LGBTI artists, will be showcased at an exhibition in Sofia between October 17th and 25th in Sofia.

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Since my last update, we have continued our efforts to support, motivate, and empower young LGBTI people in Bulgaria.  Below are some of our notable initiatives / accomplishments.

  • In 2018 we had 565 online chats with LGBTI youth from 85+ towns and cities across the country. We expanded our network of psychologists to 10 major cities in Bulgaria.  The online chat and toll-free telephone line is now staffed by 20 trained volunteers and supervised by our psychologist-supervisor;
  • We launched a new initiative VentureOUT: a career center for young LGBTI people who are just starting their careers. VentureOUT helps address many of the questions which may trouble young LGBTI people in Bulgaria, such as: How do I launch my career? Who is the right employer for me? How do I do my best at an interview?
  • As part of our #endHIVbg initiative, we are launching a psychotherapeutic support group for people living with HIV in the beginning of May 2019, led by a group psychotherapist with vast experience in the field of HIV. The group will provide support and will help its members adapt to living with a chronic disease, such as HIV, and the resulting effects;
  • Kosta Karakashyan, a Bulgarian professional dancer, choreographer and director, created a “Waiting for Color”, a film inspired by testimonials of the arrests, torture, and genocide that gay Chechens were subjected to throughout 2017. We organized numerous events including media appearances and a launch event at Gallery 2.0;
  • We just announced our inaugural annual CampOUT, a major initiative targeting young LGBTI artists in the country, who would like to grow professionally, create and be themselves. CampOUT is a five-day artistic workshop focused on five genres: visual arts, photography, music, dance, and fashion design, led by Bulgarian and international artists – mentors.  It will be held in early July at a picturesque venue in the mountains;
  • In March 2019 we created GenerationArt to give young LGBTI artists space, opportunity and a stage to express themselves and to show their art. At the end of every month, our team will select one artist to present and to show their work through GenerationArt. We will publish their works on our website as well as at our social media profiles;
  • I was honored to be invited to address the America for Bulgaria Foundation (ABF) “Celebrating Bulgarian Superheroes” annual forum, which gathered 500+ grantees and partners of ABF.  The video from the event is in the link below and is a very special project for me, personally.
  • We are still working on financing our ambitious project to establish an LGBTI community center in Sofia, as a social enterprise. Please let me know if you have any ideas / thoughts on potential donors / investors, who would like to participate in a social impact investing project, such as ours.  We will really appreciate it!


Thank you so much for your continued support!

Links:

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Since my last update, we have continued our efforts to support, motivate, and empower young LGBTI people in Bulgaria.  Below are some of our notable initiatives / accomplishments.

  • As part of Single Step’s efforts to offer comprehensive resources for the LGBTI community in Bulgaria we introduced a very targeted HIV initiative, #endHIVbg, as a logical addition and an essential resource for prevention, testing, and psychological help for LGBTI people in the country.  The first major undertaking is an innovative, targeted pilot campaign targeting hard-to-reach groups, in partnership with Grindr (the world largest social networking app for gay, bi, trans, and queer people), GlaxoSmithKline, Gilead Sciences and the National Patients’ Organization (the largest such organization in Bulgaria). Starting in September 2018, we distributed 900 entirely free, OraQuick® HIV oral-fluid self-testing kits to MSM (“Men who have sex with men”) in the country.  As part of the initiative users had to fill out an online survey.  The collected data will be utilized to publish a report with 2 main goals in mind: (i) internal: as a community-led initiative, we plan to use the report to lobby the relevant institutions in Bulgaria in order to introduce confidential home self-testing as a sustainable and viable alternative to legacy testing centers; and (ii) external: Grindr plans to use the findings from our initiative as a practical case study for other markets globally.  We plan to present the results from the pilot program and the survey, at major HIV / AIDS international conferences.
  • We were recently notified by Positive Action Challenges (a ViiV-funded initiative) that our #endHIVbg pilot program has been provisionally awarded a "Breaking Out of the Echo Chambers" prize of USD$10,000, subject to an external validation process.
  • On September 27th, 2018 Single Step's volunteers won the TimeHeroes’ “Power of Spirit” award for their dedication, motivation and their heart, for operating our online chat service. This is a huge recognition for Single Step, since TimeHeroes is the largest and widely respected volunteer platform in the country.
  • I was incredibly humbled to have been selected from over 6,000 applicants from all over the world to join the pilot Facebook Community Leadership Program (FCLP) with Single Step, alongside other aspiring leaders building meaningful communities in 46 countries, both online and offline. As part of the program, we will receive funding, training, and support to advance further positive social impact in our communities and countries.  In Facebook’s own words: “We started FCLP to address the needs identified by community leaders. This global initiative will give over 100 participants from around the world the support, tools, funding and the belief in themselves that they need to best lead their communities.”
  • I hope that in our next update report, I will be able to report on the launch of our very ambitious new project related to establishing our Community Center, as an innovative social enterprise.  Stay tuned!

Thank you so much for your continued support!

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This summer we focused on the following main areas in order to increase LGBTI youth outreach and services, and the visibility of Single Step:

  • In partnership with GLSEN and Bilitis, Single Step launched the first national online study assessing the climate in high-schools in Bulgaria to learn more about the experiences of young LGBTI people in schools across the country.  There is no official data in Bulgaria on this subject.  The data gathered will help us objectively present the situation with LGBTI students and what challenges they face in Bulgarian high schools.  We will then prepare a report which will be used to craft an action plan to create a safer environment for LGBTI high school students;
  • We expanded our peer groups which provide a safe environment for LGBTI youth;
  • In partnership with ONE Gallery, one of the premier art spaces in Sofia, we showcased “Labyrinth”, the works by the up-and-coming American artist Edward Granger.  He also starred in our Be Yourself video, which we released earlier this year;
  • On June 16 we organized the “Team with a Dream" sporting event, under the patronage of the Mayor of Sofia, in partnerships with TELUS International and VMware.  The team comprised of three well-known athletes in Bulgaria – the ultramarathon runner Krasse Georgiev, the two-time world champion in parkour/ freerun Delyan "Dido" Dimitrov, and Single Step’s founder and marathon runner and CrossFit athlete Ivan Dimov.  The event raised funds for three foundations targeting youth in Bulgaria, including Single Step and received broad TV, print and online coverage;
  • Earlier in September we launched our online store, where we sell merchandise from our Be Yourself campaign and the very first Bulgarian Manga-style comic book published in cooperation with Single Step.

We thank you for your generosity in order to ensure the financial viability of Single Step.  Any donation of any size will be extremely appreciated!

Thank you very much for your continued support!

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Organization Information

Single Step Foundation

Location: Sofia - Bulgaria
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @SingleStepBG
Project Leader:
Ivan Dimov
Sofia, Sofia Bulgaria
$18,406 raised of $25,000 goal
 
219 donations
$6,594 to go
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