Each year, The Diversity Center reaches approximately 10,000 individuals that we serve directly through our onsite programs, outreach and education events, our work with school-based Gay/Straight Alliances, and our Triangle Speakers program. We fulfill our mission to build an equitable community where LGBTQ+ people thrive by:
- Developing LGBTQ+ youth leaders in local middle and high schools, who help teach acceptance and promote positive LGBTQ+ messages to their peers
- Creating connections, building community, and reducing isolation among LGBTQ+ seniors, veterans, youth, and the Latinx community
- Teaching acceptance and providing support for transgender individuals
- Educating the community at-large about key legislative issues that impact LGBTQ+ rights and equality
We exist in large part thanks to the generosity of hundreds of volunteers who give of their time and money to help support the programs and services we offer. Our operations consist of:
• A volunteer Board of Directors, who oversee the vision, fiscal responsibilities and management of the executive director.
• An Executive Director and administrative staff, who keep the day to day workings of the Diversity Center on track.
• Program portfolio holders, either staff or volunteer, who run a plethora of activities from our senior and youth programs to weekly support groups for different members of our community.
Fiscally Sponsored Projects
The Diversity Center supports smaller LGBTQ+ community projects as a fiscal sponsor. These fiscally sponsored projects meet our goals, but do not have the resources to acquire independent 501(c)(3) status. The fiscally sponsored projects form their own operating advisory committee, and the Diversity Center acts as fiscal sponsor for the organization. These fiscal sponsor agreements streamline costs such as insurance, tax accounting, etc. and it promotes a spirit of cooperation in our community while working toward a common goal.
The Diversity Center was founded in 1989 as the Santa Cruz Lesbian and Gay Community Center to advance the causes and priorities of the lesbian and gay community in Santa Cruz County. Over the years, the Center has grown in scope, budget, and staff, and now serves the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQ+) community of Santa Cruz County. Since our merger in 2008 with Triangle Speakers, we are now the chief agency in the county promoting social justice, enhancing the health and well-being, and building a sense of community for LGBTQ+ people. Our committed staff members work with nearly 250 volunteers to produce our community programs and events. We operate a welcoming community center with a lending library, cyber center, and many other resources. We are also the fiscal agent for several LGBTQ+ groups, giving them the benefits and protections of our non-profit status.
The Diversity Center is the only LGBTQ+ Community Center on the Central Coast of California, and while our services are directed at Santa Cruz County residents, we have people from all over Northern California — from San Francisco to San Luis Obispo — who benefit from our services and attend our events.
The first gay and lesbian movement organizing started in the early 1950’s. The Mattachine Society in LA (1951) and Daughter of Bilitis in San Francisco (1955) are two examples. In the early 1970’s, LGBTQ+ communities around the country were beginning to emerge out of the anti-war and feminist movements. Universities across the United States began to register a new type of student organization called Gay Alliances.
In Santa Cruz, LGBTQ+ folks rode on this wave of radical change and in 1974 organized our first annual Gay Pride Festival. Fifteen years later, in 1989, a real building was leased to offer a home and resource center to the LGBTQ+ community under the name The Santa Cruz Lesbian and Gay Community Center (later filing DBA (doing business as) paperwork to be known as the Diversity Center). The Diversity Center has been a major part of LGBTQ+ life on the Central Coast ever since.