Record Staff Writer 

STOCKTON — The San Joaquin Pride Center has received a “game changing” state grant that will allow significantly increased services for LGBT+ youth. The program, titled Cultivating Acceptance, will be funded by a $1.18 million grant from the California Department of Public Health, Office of Health Equity.

“There were only seven LGBT+ programs funded in the state and we are the only one with the focus on youth,” said Nicholas Hatten, executive director of the Pride Center. “This will make a huge difference in our ability to help young people.”

The Pride Center’s current annual budget is only about $80,000, Hatten said.

Stockton Unified School District officials said the district is fully engaged for the Cultivating Acceptance program, and Hatten said he’s had favorable response from other county school districts.

“Growing up in Stockton and dealing with thoughts about my sexuality, I always wished there had been a place like the Pride Center,” said Lange Luntao, an SUSD trustee who is gay. “And now for the center to have a program established at this level, it will enable so much more outreach.”

The program officially begins on May 1. Jenna Santoyo, a Lodi native with a social work background, has been hired by the Pride Center through the grant to provide services.

“I believe in the work done by nonprofits and this sort of support opening up to the Pride Center can result in systematic change,” Santoyo said.

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