Mission & History
The Attic Youth Center 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.
In 1993, two graduate students, Daren Wade and Carrie Jacobs, joined forces at Voyage House, a Philadelphia-based social service organization, and founded The Attic Youth Group. They had planned an eight-week “pilot” project to provide a weekly, after-school support group for LGBTQ youth, who met in the “attic” of the agency. Within the first eight weeks of the group, 41 youth had attended, disproving the misconception that “there are no gay youth”. Participating youth rallied to keep the group alive and worked with the graduate students on a research project to document the group and the need for it to continue.
For over a year and a half, the group continued in the “attic” of Voyage House -- without funding. Towards the end of 1993, Carrie dialogued with the youth to create the Youth Planning Committee (YPC), which eventually became the basis for The Attic’s youth governance model and The Attic Speakers Bureau, which was the foundation for The Attic’s education and training program, The Bryson Institute.
During the late 1990’s, The Attic experienced incredible growth in programming, services, and staffing. Attic youth formed Thespians and Drama Queens, a socially conscious improvisational theater troupe, and performed for audiences around the country. The Attic also started a summer internship program and held the first of many youth leadership retreats. Mental Health professionals in the community donated their time to provide counseling for Attic youth, which laid the foundation for the organization’s counseling services, and HIV prevention funding paved the way for the organization’s health and wellness programming.
In 1999, Carrie worked with community members to assemble a Board of Directors, and The Attic became incorporated as an independent nonprofit organization – The Attic Youth Center was born! In 2000, The Attic received a gift from an anonymous donor to purchase its current building on 16th street, in Center City Philadelphia. After three years of renovations, The Attic moved into its new home.
From what was once a weekly support group, The Attic has grown into a nationally recognized, multi-service youth organization, and is now one of the largest community centers in the U.S. committed exclusively to serving LGBTQ youth and allies.