The Peter M. Cicchino Social Justice Foundation
WCL Awards
Peter Cicchino Youth Project
UJC Mission Statement

Photo courtesy of
Todd France.

The Peter Cicchino Youth Project

The PCYP, which Peter founded in 1994, addresses the unique legal issues facing homeless and indigent lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) youth including foster care, education, public assistance benefits and criminal matters. The PCYP is the only organization in the United States to provide direct legal services specifically to LGBT youth; in addition, the PCYP provides public education to combat homophobia and engages in systemic advocacy to improve conditions for LGBT youth.

Of the estimated 20,000 teenagers living on the streets of New York City, almost half self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered (LGBT). These teens have been thrown out of their homes or have run away from foster care because of homophobia, harassment, and physical abuse. Once on the streets, the majority of them turn to prostitution and drug use.

The Peter Cicchino Youth Project was created to reach out to these young people and help them stabilize their lives. This project has assisted thousands of teens to navigate the complicated channels of government benefits, access permanent housing, and continue their education.

Every week the Peter Cicchino Youth Project conducts legal clinics at drop-in centers for runaways and LGBT youth, where clients are counselled one-on-one. PCYP staff also engages in systemic advocacy and impact litigation around issues such as the mistreatment of LGBT youth in New York City's foster care and juvenile detention systems. Finally, the PCYP works with LGBT young adults who are "aging" out of foster care, to ensure that they receive legally required discharge planning, and to give them the skills they need to successfully transition into independent, adult lives.

Litigation and advocacy efforts have led to many positive reforms, including the establishment of foster care housing specifically for LGBT foster youth and increased training on LGBT issues for foster care workers.

Contact the PCYP at