Spartanburg’s UpLift Outreach Center expanding services with grant from Mary Black Foundation

Published: Jun. 9, 2023 at 10:13 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 10, 2023 at 8:15 AM EDT
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SPARTANBURG, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - Spartanburg’s UpLift Outreach Center is filling a need in the Spartanburg community. The center serves the county’s LGBTQ+ youth in many ways—but mainly by providing mental health access. The center co-founder says as youth mental health concerns continue to grow in the county, their programming is vital.

“There is no indoctrinating going on. We just support who they are,” said Deb Foreman, the Co-Founder and Director of the UpLift Outreach Center.

The center was founded in 2019 and is now serving about 80 LGBTQ+ youth, ages 10 to 23.

“It’s all about suicide prevention. The more we can support these youth and offer them supportive adults and supportive peers in their lives, and just provide them with a lot of positive messaging to address issues that come up in their lives, you know, they just have a better chance to thrive,” said Foreman.

It’s the only center that solely serves the LGBTQ+ youth in Spartanburg, providing not only a safe space but mental health resources. The county’s recent 3-year Health Improvement Plan found mental health issues were the leading cause of ER visits for children in the county from 2016 to 2020.

Foreman says that number is even more critical for LGBTQ+ youth who face societal pressures.

“You know, as a teenager, you’re supposed to be looking towards your future and what you want to do with your future and it’s hard to plan your future when you don’t know what your future looks like,” she said.

Now, it’s the center getting support. It’s one of 11 organizations chosen for a $50,000 grant from the Mary Black Foundation.

“Our dollars are only funded for Spartanburg County youth, but the grant we got from the Mary Black Foundation will certainly change that. We’ll be able to offer mental health to some of our youth outside of Spartanburg County,” said Foreman.

The grant was the first round awarded from the $8 million donation from billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott to the Mary Black Foundation last year.

The other organizations chosen are:

  • Angel’s Charge Ministry
  • Birth Matters
  • Bloom Upstate
  • Children’s Advocacy Center
  • FAVOR Upstate
  • GoForth Recover
  • Hope Center for Children
  • PASOs