There are two Cyndi Laupers: One is the wisecracking, tough-talker people know from Celebrity Apprentice. The other is a sincere and soft-spoken mom who is committed to finding ways to ensure lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youths don’t end up homeless.
“The kids are our future,” says Grammy-nominated Lauper, 57, whose True Colors Fund launched the Give a Damn Campaign in April in order to “call out to other straight people and show them the real things at stake.”
LGBT kids account for 20 to 40 percent of the homeless youth population (many are runaways or were kicked out of their houses after coming out), but next summer, they will have a new place to turn: The True Colors Residence – named in honor of Lauper and her anthem of acceptance – in Central Harlem will be New York’s first permanent housing facility for LGBT youths ages 18 to 24.
Lauper, whose album Memphis Blues has been nominated for a Grammy, helped spark the project a few years ago after she saw a group of homeless LGBT kids at one of New York City’s piers. “It really broke my heart,” she recalls. “I couldn’t stand by as kids get thrown out and discriminated against.”
For more about Lauper’s efforts and the young people she works with, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now