End-of-Year Campaign 2021 – Matching Grant

Donate Now! $200,000 Matching Gift Before January 15, 2022

This year, you made my dreams come true. Last year, I wrote to you from a place of desperation. The COVID-19 pandemic forced us to make major changes in how we deliver services and fundraise. I closed my annual letter by saying, “I am hopeful that 2021 will be a better, healthier, more just year and that we will have the resources to continue serving the young people who need us.” As I write to you today, I am filled with appreciation and gratitude for the things we’ve been able to accomplish in 2021 because you came through for us:

  • 34 mentees continued working with their mentors
  • 40 new mentees have been matched since January 2021
  • Achieved a 73% match success rate (high-quality, long-term, and meaningful), which is exceptional for our type of service
  • Despite the pandemic, we achieved our fundraising goals, thanks in large part to your help meeting last year’s $100,000 matching grant target
  • Became a fully independent nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization (EIN: 84-3747403)
  • Rebranded and launched our new website, donated by KGI Collective
  • Finalized our organizational logic model to crystalize our service delivery model and better communicate with stakeholders
  • Recruited a Board of Directors


Each of those data points represents a powerful and unique story, glimpsed in the headlines below:

  • Chozen, age 17, ate his first meal in a restaurant with Lauren, asking her where to wash his dirty dishes when they were finished
  • TJ, age 20, moved into his first apartment with Joe’s help and took Zoom cooking classes with Joe’s wife, Jill, so he could learn to cook for himself
  • Diamond, age 18, told us, “Ariel isn’t just a mentor to me. She’s my sister, my family. My real sisters aren’t there in my life and when I first met Ariel, I saw a big, bright sunshine light. I really care for Ariel to the point where I wish Ariel was my blood sister. She understands and she helps me.” (pair pictured above center)
  • LeAnna, age 19, lacked stable housing, but maintained consistent contact with one person – her mentor, Doreen
  • Elijah, age 19, finally picked up the phone and initiated a meetup with Susan after 3.5 years matched together
  • Jaytory, age 15, who was initially so shy that she would face away from people, is now talkative and open with Kayla about everything from super powers they each want to staying away from drugs (pair pictured above right)
  • Michael, age 13, was moved through 3 different homes and struggled with his sexual orientation until he found acceptance with David
  • Xio, age 15, absconded from her placement for weeks until Juuli convinced her to return and personally drove her back
  • Tati, age 14, who had such low self-worth that she wouldn’t speak with anyone and had stopped taking care of herself, is learning about health, hygiene, and self-love thanks to Maggie’s unconditional commitment

Help us continue telling these stories by making a donation today. Only 66% of our mentee applicants are matched with a mentor and we currently have almost a dozen young people waiting who we cannot help without your support. A generous donor has agreed to match up to $200,000 before the end of the year. We want to maximize this opportunity, so our goal is to raise $200,000 and we can’t do it without your contribution.

I am also inviting you to help fundraise for Connections because I know that you believe in the work we do. We’re using an awesome digital platform called GiveButter that allows you to set up your own personal fundraising page (click *Fundraise*), track progress against your goals, and reach out to your networks to ask them to support Connections. Setup is quick and easy for both you and your friends and family who donate. Please let me know if you need assistance.

It’s been a truly incredible year thanks to you and I’m so looking forward to what we will accomplish in 2022 with your support.


Lia Taylor Schwartz, Executive Director