SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Apple CEO Tim Cook and retired NBA All-Star Dwayne Wade joined Utah leaders Wednesday and a local advocacy for building new homes that provide services for LGBTQ youth in the US West. Announced the completion of the group’s campaign.
Encircle, a nonprofit providing mental health services for LGBTQ youth, raised $8 million to build eight new homes with locations in Arizona, Idaho, Nevada and Utah, with the aim of providing safe spaces and preventing teen suicide. has exceeded its target.
“Encircle’s mission is very personal to me because I see myself in so many of these young people,” Cook told reporters in a press briefing on Wednesday. “It’s not easy when you’re made to feel isolated or less for who you are or who you love. It’s a feeling that so many LGBTQ people know all too well.”
The group launched an initial campaign in February with donations from Apple and Utah Jazz owners Ryan and Ashley Smith.
Wade, who joined the Utah Jazz ownership group in April, shared his experience as a parent of a transgender child and voiced his support for EnCircle’s mission.
“I stand here as the proud parent of a beautiful daughter who is part of the LGBT-plus community,” Wade said. “I don’t have all the answers. I don’t know everything, but I’m willing to listen.”
Encircle has locations in Salt Lake City, Provo and St. George, Utah. Construction has begun at Heber, Logan and Ogden as well as locations in Las Vegas.
The group is based in Provo, Utah, which is also home to Brigham Young University. Jeffrey Holland, a top leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, recently called on the church-owned university to uphold its commitment to the faith’s fundamental teachings, including its stance against same-sex marriage.
The ensuing controversy showed that tensions remained between the LGBTQ community and the dominant faith of state.
Church scholars say the Salt Lake City-based faith taught that homosexuality could be “cured” in the 1970s. The Church has since stated that homosexuality is not a sin, although it opposes same-sex marriage and intimacy.
This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Dwayne Wade’s first name.