Under the Rainbow Umbella of Diversity: Be your best self

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
Rainbow Resource Centre
City & State:
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement

The Rainbow Resource Centre envisions and works toward an equal and diverse society, free of homophobia and discrimination. It does so by encouraging visibility and fostering health and self-acceptance through education, support, resources and outreach.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

The Rainbow Resource Centre (RRC) can be traced back to 1973 beginning with a small student group who recognized the impact of discrimination, the fundamental need for equality, as well as the need for resources and support for individuals, who were either questioning their sexual orientation or gender identity, or who already identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender (GLBT). Met with societal hostility, homophobia and the constant risk of physical and emotional harm, the group (first known as Campus Gay Club) operated with little to no funding at discreet locations in the University of Manitoba. For the first few years, the organization was able to secure a telephone information line, peer counselling service, and a small resource library.Until a $35k government grant in 2004, the RRC operating as a non-profit charitable organization received no government funding and solely relied on foundation grants, fund raising initiatives and donations. This funding helped offset the costs for a small apartment-converted office, and wages for one administrator. Volunteerism was, and still is, fundamental in core service provision including, youth programming, the peer support phone line, support group programming, counselling services, education delivery, library operations, resource development and other functionary services. For years, the RRC has struggled with achieving organizational stability mostly due to little to no funding. It is a privilege for us to purchase everything from chairs, desks, and ink for a photocopier and it’s definitely a luxury to have up to date and compatible computer technology. Today, the RRC employs 6 full time staff and is overseen by a dedicated Board of Directors. The RRC receives an average of 35,000 contacts a year from across Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario. Through TechSoup, reduced price Microsoft technologies are absolutely fundamental in all of our communication, outreach, campaign, awareness, and resource development initiatives.While the social climate in some countries is progressively changing to acknowledge the existence and contributions of sexual and gender minorities, a vast number of individuals still endure the consequences of a society that does not fully accept diversity and equality. Here are the facts:• A 2009 study indicates that 8 out of 10 GLBT students feel unsafe in schools; • A 2003 study indicates that LGBT people commit suicide at rates as high as 13.9 times more often than the general population;• Maladaptive coping such as smoking and alcohol use is 7 times greater than the general population; • Illicit drug use is 19 times higher than the general population;• A 2007 student indicates that rates of depression and anxiety are 3 times higher than the general population.Sadly, these and others realities are exacerbated with rural isolation, cultural expectations, race, poverty, disability, and other social and cultural barriers.With inequitable funding, we have heavily relied on the generous donations of individuals and especially businesses to accomplish our work to improve the health and well being of GLBT people, including their family, friends and allies. Microsoft software such as Vista, Outlook, Office Suite, and Internet Explorer are fundamental in: • Achieving stability in line with the RRC’s exponential growth in client usage and service provision; • Enhancing the quality of our services, especially in education, awareness, and campaigns; and• Outreaching to those in rural and isolated communities, and those who seek support and information.The RRC has utilized MS Office Applications in a plethora of ways. • One of the greatest impacts has been with the use of both MS Explorer and MS Outlook. This program has helped us significantly improve access to our services in a variety of ways. Specifically, this is true for youth who express not feeling safe to access supports in person; parents who want to work through their challenges; individuals living outside of Winnipeg who either do not have accessible transportation; individuals who require support, as well as health and wellness information while questioning their sexual orientation and gender identity; individuals whom for whatever reason, including risk of personal and professional harm, cannot access the RRC. Additionally RRC staff and volunteers use MS Outook to help organize our calendars, schedule education seminars, as well as being a useful tool share information and resources with one another. • The RRC has created all of its core informational and organizational pamphlets by using MS Publisher. Lack of funding has impacted printing these pamphlets however using MS Outlook we are able to email them to other social service agencies which not only helps offset print costs and expand its distribution, but it also helps the environment.Recently, the RRC created a youth booklet called ShoutOut. The purpose for this publication is for youth to recognize how society can negatively impact personal choice while coping with homophobia. At the same time, the booklet provides healthier options and resource support. The booklet’s affirming messages, which include personal stories of resilience, also let youth know that they are not alone in their journeys and struggles. Microsoft Office applications were used throughout its production, distribution, and marketing. With a 10,000 print run, and within 5 weeks, every single copy has been either distributed or reserved. As of September 2009, every Manitoba high school guidance and counselling department (800 schools) will be receiving the booklets and distributing it to its intended audience.• MS PowerPoint is primarily used for education delivery. The RRC is recognized for its high quality and professionally delivered workshops to students (grade level and post secondary), teachers, health care professionals, social service agencies, businesses, and anyone else who is interested in expanding their knowledge and professional capacity on issues regarding sexual and gender minorities. In 2007 we delivered 45 workshops. In 2008 we delivered 60 workshops and as of May 2009, the RRC has delivered 82 workshops. • In addition to using MS Power Point, we create all of our workshop handouts with MS Word. MS Word is the only writing platform the RRC uses.• We use MS Excel for all our financials, including program and operational budgets. MS Excel will be particularly useful as we are in the midst of creating a community needs assessment to ensure that the RRC is not only on the right track, but as a means to examine how we can better serve our community. MS Excel will be our platforms when collecting data and evaluation. As you can see, gratefully we take full advantage of Microsoft software to help accomplish our work. It is through these generous donations that organizations such as the Rainbow Resource Centre can affect change for the betterment of society.

Submission Category
Stable and Secure Technology