LYTE Collective serves young adults impacted by poverty and homelessness.
Our mission is to:
It is not only too hard for youth in dangerous situations to get help, they often experience more harm from social service agencies when they seek that help. In 2014, LYTE’s Collective’s founders came together to do it differently and hope that, in turn, others will, too.
LYTE Collective is founded on the principle of Living in Truth as articulated by human rights leader Václav Havel (LYTE = Live Your Truth Everywhere). Havel’s ideas call us to end participation in social systems that harm human beings and to instead create alternative systems defined by social justice, dignity and the protection of human rights.
LYTE is run as a collective, where every member of our community is valued equally in voice and vote in all decisions made by the organization. We believe when the organizational culture is healthy and just at its core this not only makes us more effective, it makes our entire community at LYTE safer and stronger.
At LYTE we depend on our friends, neighbors, and community partners to help us do better by young people. We believe our work must be done in community and we intentionally collaborate with other like-minded organizations and individuals who share our values in order to build a strong web of support for youth across the city. We know we are infinitely stronger together and we hope you will considering joining us.
To ensure the youth we serve are truly directing the work, we have built an organizational structure that requires it. Youth with lived experience of homelessness serve on both our board of directors and our staff team. They guide all that happens at LYTE Collective, ensuring we are never asking youth to fit into our programs or policies but that we are always adapting our support to fit what young people need and want and providing that support in the ways they determine to be most helpful.
We believe in the transformative and healing power of relationships and therefore center relationships in all of our work. We reject an understanding of success for youth as solely a state of self-reliance. We believe that none of us get through life alone and so we work with youth to build connections. We believe in the power of accompaniment—walking alongside young people for as long as they would like us to. We hope to develop enduring relationships where youth are proud to be a part of a community; a community they can return to for years to come.
We see and value young people, and all collective members, as complex beings with holistic needs. At LYTE, we believe we must invest deeply in young people in every possible way we can. This means that supporting youth with art, music, creative writing, sports and political activism is just as critical to their future as meeting their basic needs and connecting them to higher education and employment opportunities.
Young people come up against hurdles constantly when trying to get help. They are told they need documentation to “prove” they are in need or that they have a specific vulnerability. They must travel long distances to, or through, neighborhoods where they don’t feel safe. They can’t bring their children. They are not the right age. They used up all their time in the program and can no longer receive support. And so many more ways they are told “we can’t help you.” We believe these barriers are dangerous. At LYTE, we serve every young person who contacts us, with whatever they need, for as long as they would like us to. We go directly to them, wherever they feel most safe, and we will never require someone to prove to us that they are in need of support.
We are accountable foremost to the young people we serve. We will work tirelessly and passionately with, and on behalf of, youth and we will always report our work and its outcomes with transparency and integrity. Likewise, we will also hold systems and individuals that cause harm to young people accountable, in hopes they will choose to repair the harm they have caused and work to do better.
We believe it is our ethical commitment to the young people we partner with to ground our work in best-practice knowledge generated from experience and research. At LYTE, we require that this evidence must not only include, but privilege, the expertise of youth and their lived experience. We do not just listen to the voices of young people; we do not act without them.
At LYTE, we will love. We believe youth are not our clients or cases to be managed; they are our family, our neighbors, and our friends, who we hope to build genuine relationships with and accompany as they move through both challenges and triumphs in their lives.
We understand the structural inequities and resulting oppression that maintain poverty. We recognize that the direct services we provide at LYTE will never be enough to truly end poverty and homelessness for young people if we do not also simultaneously work toward larger social change. We believe that housing is a human right and we will fight for as long as it takes to ensure every young person has the home and future they deserve.