“Outside of my day job, I am the President of the New York Chapter of The WayOUT Foundation, an entirely volunteer-based 501(c)(3) non-profit that fundraises annually for organizations to provide life-saving services to LGBTQ+ youth. Over the past three years, we've raised more than $620k for six different organizations. These organizations work on the ground to save the lives of queer youth in communities where they have access to fewer resources and typically feel isolated, abandoned, and experience much higher rates of violence and suicide.
I was asked to join WayOUT as a founding member of the New York Chapter by a college friend who built the San Francisco Chapter. Though I don’t have a background in philanthropy, what initially inspired me to lead the New York Chapter of WayOUT was our unique, grassroots approach to fundraising. We’ve managed to raise a significant amount of money in a short time by allowing our own community of young professionals to connect with the incredible work that our partner organizations do to support the well-being of queer youth in areas where their livelihoods are at great risk. We have very few high net worth donors and drive the vast majority of our fundraising from young, late-20s/early-30s professionals who connect with our cause and are inspired to give what they can. Since I have limited experience in philanthropy, WayOUT has allowed me to realize the tremendous impact you can make from within your own community.
WayOUT has also provided me with opportunities to find community and have an impact outside of my professional career. Even in high school, extracurricular activities like the Brentwood Dance Company and the Brentwood Theater Company were an important source of personal fulfillment for me. I think there’s a sense that “extracurriculars” end after high school. Not only do they not end but they remain an essential source of joy throughout your life.”
As part of WayOUT’s year-end work, Jonah has been organizing the first-ever New York City Virtual Gayla to take place Thursday, December 17, 2020 and the New York Holiday Market that ends on December 19, 2020. To learn more about these events or get involved, visit The WayOUT Foundation.
ADVICE TO MY YOUNGER SELF:
1. Learning what you don’t want to do for work is as valuable as learning what you do want to do.
2. Get used to asking your friends and colleagues for what you need.
3. Learn how to ask your friends and colleagues what they need from you.
4. Learn how to identify immediately when an opportunity or environment is not a good cultural fit for you. It’s much easier to change where you are than to change who you are.
5. Find people you trust to give you regular feedback.
6. “Extracurriculars” remain an essential source of joy long after high school.