Community Empowering Movement (C.E.M.) Board

Our Mission & Vision

The mission of the Community Empowering Movement (C.E.M.) Board* is to advocate for youth in foster care who have diverse sexual orientation, gender identity and expression through youth-led trainings created to educate persons and systems to inform policies and practice while promoting permanency, diversity, youth acceptance and inclusion.

The vision of the C.E.M. Board is:

We thrive to empower our peers and our community, to expand our knowing, share our creativity, encourage change and resilience and practice overall mindfulness.

To advance our mission and vision, we work collaboratively with Kinnect, The YWCA Cleveland – A Place for Me, and the Cuyahoga County community to raise awareness and advocate for a safe and affirming environment for LGBTQ+ youth in foster care, as well as to prevent future homelessness.

Why Create the C.E.M. Board?

Approximately 19% of children entering foster care identify as LGBTQ+. Many youth with diverse Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity/Expression (SOGIE) end up in foster care due to family rejection. Youth with diverse SOGIE are more likely to have negative mental health experiences and are at greater risk for HIV, targeted abuse, and suicide. By educating families, involved agencies, and professional staff about diverse SOGIE, we can change these negative outcomes.

Further, decisions regarding a youth’s life should never be made without youth voice at the table. Members of the C.E.M. Board help shape and improve policies and practices that affect young people.

What does the C.E.M. Board Do?

The C.E.M. Board meets quarterly to advance its mission through:

  • Partnering with Cuyahoga County to develop policies and protocols that affect LGBTQ+ young people in foster care
  • Providing young people with leadership development opportunities
  • Recognizing the value of board members’ contributions with a modest stipend for their time and effort

Who Should Join?

Your voice matters! The C.E.M. Board welcomes members who are interested in influencing policies and practices that affect young people, while gaining leadership, professional development, and resume skills for the future.

To be eligible for the C.E.M. Board you should:

  • Identify on the LGBTQ+ spectrum, as gender expansive, or as an ally
  • Have a direct connection to the foster care system, either through lived experience in the foster care system, or through a relationship with someone who did, such as a foster sibling.
  • Be a Cuyahoga County resident between the ages of 16 to 30
  • Be able to commit at least 2 hours per month
  • Have the means to remain in routine contact with the group by phone or email

C.E.M. Board members will receive a modest stipend for their time. The program will also assist with public transportation costs.

Learn More

Do you know a determined young person who has been touched by the foster care system?
Do they identify as LGBTQ+ or as an ally?
Are they between 16-30 years old?

Consider referring them to the C.E.M. Board!

 For more information complete the form below or contact Sonia Emerson, Project Coordinator, at

*The C.E.M. Board is part of Affirm.Me., funded by the National Quality Improvement Center on Tailored Services, Placement Stability and Permanency for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, and Two-Spirit Children and Youth in Foster Care (QIC-LGBTQ+) at the University of Maryland Baltimore School of Social Work. The QIC-LGBTQ2S is funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau under grant #90CW1145. The contents of this document do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the funders, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

C.E.M (Community Empowering Movement) Interest Form

Kinnect Affirm.Me Youth PRIDE Interest Form
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