LGBTQ+ History

Since 1981, CHRIS 180 has been dedicated to healing children, strengthening families and building communities. That work has always been underscored by our belief in acceptance and equity, that everyone deserves the support needed to change the direction of their lives. CHRIS 180 is the first and largest nonprofit organization in Georgia to openly celebrate and serve LGBTQ+ youth.


For more than 30 years, we have focused on the needs of at-risk youth, filling gaps and targeted services to reach them where they are, provide acceptance, understanding and counseling as they start the next chapter of their lives.  This work includes educating families toward acceptance of LGBTQ+ youth as well as intervening to reduce the harmful effects of family rejection.  Diversity, inclusivity, acceptance and unconditional love are foundational to CHRIS 180’s ethics and values and our hope is that through our services, thousands of LGBTQ+ young adults are able to reach their potential.



  • Adopted non-discrimination policy that included sexual orientation and gender identity
  • Created mandatory training for staff in providing an inclusive, accepting environment for LGBTQ+ youth
  • Began advocacy at the state level on behalf of LGBTQ+ youth who are in foster care


  • Conducted a one day conference for clinicians and providers on working with LGBTQ+ youth funded through an initiative of the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta
  • Kathy Colbenson, LMFT, CHRIS 180 President & CEO and Stephanie Swann, LCSW, Founder of YouthPride, determined that there were far too many LGBTQ+ youth who were experiencing homelessness and rejection and collaborated with a small group of community volunteers to address the problem and help these youth


  • CHRIS 180 located and applied for a federal grant to help fund services for these young people and worked with community volunteers to raise charitable funding
  • Federal grant awarded to provide outreach, housing and services to youth experiencing homelessness in Georgia with targeted outreach to LGBTQ+ youth.


CHRIS 180 opened the Rainbow Home on January 1, 2000, becoming the first program in the Southeast for youth experiencing homelessness, ages 17-21. The home provided targeted outreach to gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or questioning youth. Charitable funding enabled the home to open before federal funding began in mid-February 2000


President & CEO Kathy Colbenson appointed to the Child Welfare League of America’s LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee


Advocates and advisors formed the Rainbow Advisory Board (later OUT-Reach Committee) to assist with fundraising and community awareness/outreach. The Park Tavern Silent Auction and Party was started to begin charitable funding


Rainbow Home combines with CHRIS 180’s Independent Living Program (after federal funds discontinued) and begins to operate in a supervised apartment setting


President & CEO Kathy Colbenson appointed to the National Advisory Board on LGBTQ+ Youth for the National Alliance to End Youth Homelessness


CHRIS 180 holds first Premiere Party, during Atlanta Pride Weekend to raise funds for LGBTQ+ targeted program. Began advocacy for the State of Georgia to endorse and conduct a count of youth experiencing homelessness that would include a question about gender orientation and identity.


  • CHRIS 180 awarded a Tides Foundation grant to provide LGBTQ+ training for community organizations and residential/foster care agency staff including clinicians
  • Awarded Atlanta Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce’s Guardian Angel Award for outstanding commitment to LGBTQ+ youth


  • Partnered with the Georgia Alliance to End Youth Homelessness to conduct the first-ever count of youth experiencing homelessness and inaugural count of LGBTQ+ youth experiencing homelessness.
  • CHRIS 180 Summit Trail apartment community is completed and expands capacity up to 44 young adults, tripling capacity to help youth experiencing homelessness.


CHRIS 180 acquires The Giving Tree Adoption Agency and begins offering adoptions for children in foster care to LGBTQ+ couples


Received the All-Children – All Families Seal of Recognition from the Human Rights Campaign as a “Leader in Supporting and Serving LGBT Youth and Families”


CHRIS 180 named to State of Georgia LGBTQ+ Committee

Collaborated with Georgia Department of Developmental Disabilities and others on: Fostering Family, A Guide to working well with LGBTQ youth in Georgia’s Child Welfare System


Fostering Family publication published and distributed statewide

Top trainings offered by the CHRIS Training Institute are LGBTQ+ Awareness and Working with LGBTQ+ Youth


CHRIS 180 named to City of Atlanta LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee

Organization sponsors inaugural broadcast television airing of Atlanta Pride Parade on CBS 46


CHRIS 180 welcomes hundreds to annual Premiere Party fundraising celebrating LGBTQ+ work in the community


Organization continues participation in annual Atlanta Pride Parade with float, festival booth and sponsorship of parade broadcast on CBS 46


CHRIS 180 recognized by the HRC Foundation’s All Children – All Families project as one of 100 child welfare agencies for our work toward becoming fully welcoming and affirming of LGBTQ youth and parents


Organization participates in Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ Opportunity Fair for LGBTQ adults