CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Campus Pride has announced that it has permanently taken its operations fully online to virtually meet the needs of LGBTQ college students across the country. The decision came after the national non-profit adapted its staffing model and all in-person programming during the summer and fall to an online format.
“Campus Pride, since it was founded, has always embraced the use of technology to mobilize communities and create safer spaces,” said Campus Pride Executive Director Shane Windmeyer. “This latest move to go completely digital is a throwback of sorts to the way we started out, with staff and volunteers working together remotely and without a physical space to call our own for several years. The decision is also consistent with our brand, which has always been able to adapt nimbly to meet the changing needs of LGBTQ young people.”
Over the previous summer, Campus Pride adapted its annual social justice and leadership development academy Camp Pride, to a multi-day virtual camp that had over 100 registrants for each day. The organization also shifted its programming around students by organizing digital events, like Lavender Graduation, Back to School activities, job fairs and social events that allow LGBTQ young people to connect with others in their community during the pandemic. Additionally, Campus Pride terminated the lease for its office and instituted a new, remote internship program.
“Today’s announcement is a preview into the many exciting developments that are to come for Campus Pride as we enter into our 20th year in 2021,” said Tom Elliott, newly-elected chair of the organization’s board. “We have started to imagine what things will look like post-pandemic, and we believe there will be a growing need for connecting with LGBTQ college students virtually. Campus Pride remains steadfast in our mission to build future leaders and create safer communities, and this decision to go digital is the best way to accomplish this.”
Elliott is the first person elected as chair in the organization’s 19-year history who was a graduate of Campus Pride programming. He had attended the 2007 leadership camp while a student at Southern Methodist University (Dallas, Texas). He is a founding partner of Acacia Consulting Group based in Chicago, Ill. Previously, Elliott served as the communications director for several statewide political campaigns in Illinois and was the director of public relations for Center on Halsted.
In addition, the board elected veteran Campus Pride volunteer Don Wilson as the vice chair to serve the organization. Wilson works for Wells Fargo as the vice president of People & Cultures. He joined the board a year ago and has been an active volunteer with Camp Pride for four years.
Campus Pride will continue to offer in-person programs and services when it makes sense to do so financially and safely, the organization shared. However, until then, the organization plans to “leverage its existing online resources and programs like the Campus Pride Index, Historically Black College & University LGBTQ Database, Trans Policy Clearinghouse and Campus Pride Sports Index.” In addition, the organization has online expansion plans for new digital trainings and programs to respond to the present challenges faced by LGBTQ and ally youth.
“This year has changed all of us. We decided to listen and allow it to change us for the better,” said Windmeyer. “When faced with a challenge, you adapt and create new opportunities.”