PROVO, Utah — Apple CEO Tim Cook, Jazz owner Ryan Smith, and Imagine Dragons lead singer Dan Reynolds announced a partnership donation of $4 million to Encircle, an organization that provides programs and mental health services for LGBTQ+ youth and their families.
“Encircle has developed a model that embodies everything that I believe in. It’s love, it’s home, it’s unity, it’s safety. And, you know, it’s truly innovative,” Smith told Good Morning America.
Encircle plans more homes
Together, the three announced their $4 million donation to seed Encircle’s “$8 Million, 8 Houses’’ capital campaign to expand resources and homes from its roots in Utah and to locations in Idaho, Nevada and Arizona.
The founder of the Utah non-profit, Stephanie Larson, offered more details.
“We plan to build four more [homes] in Utah, as well as two in Arizona, two in Idaho, and then one will be in Dan Reynold’s childhood home in Las Vegas,” Larson said.
Larson says the support from Cook, Reynolds and Smith speaks volumes.
“Having these leaders from tech, music and sports come together sends a message to LGBTQ people across the world that they are loved and cared about,” she added.
“The point that we want to hit home that every family needs to hear is that acceptance is not enough for our LGBTQ youth. They need to be celebrated,” Reynolds said.
Jazz owners Ryan Smith and his wife Ashley are contributing $2 million to the fund, Apple is donating $1 million as well as providing Apple devices to help promote connection and education, and Reynolds and his wife, Aja Volkman are donating Dan’s childhood home, valued at $1 million, in Las Vegas.
What Encircle does
Encircle, which was founded in Utah in 2017, has three homes in Utah in Provo, Salt Lake and St. George, with a fourth under construction in Heber.
Since their opening, the organization said they have served over 70,000 individuals and, “provide[ed] a lifeline to those facing suicidality, isolation and depression, [while] helping them build local community and forge a path forward.”
.@encircle2gether provides safe, loving places for LGBTQ+ youth. Their motto of no sides, only love brings families and communities together. Grateful to partner with @tim_cook and @DanReynolds to help take Encircle to the world. pic.twitter.com/KfPiZkEVac
— Ryan Smith (@RyanQualtrics) February 25, 2021
Coming out to help kids
Cook shared his own experience of coming out, explaining that he decided to share that part of his life after hearing from so many kids who were getting harassed and seriously contemplating suicide.
“This is why I came out because I was getting notes from kids and kids that were contemplating suicide kids that were being bullied. And so I wanted to share a part of my life. And being involved in this with Dan and Ryan and sort of taking it to a new level is what it’s all about.”
Cook has spent time in Utah sharing his experience and support for LGBTQ+ young people, appearing at the second LOVELOUD festival in 2018. During his visit, he toured Encircle’s first property in Provo.
Full circle for Reynolds
Reynolds said the moment has really come full circle for him.
“I’ve watched throughout my life the difficult path that LGBTQ youth have, especially coming in from homes of faith. So to now know that with my mom and dad’s blessing, I was able to purchase the house from them, and it’s going to be the first and Encircle home in Las Vegas. And that’s, that’s powerful for me.”
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