Knit the Rainbow
MISSION & HISTORY.
Knit the Rainbow (KtR) was founded in April, 2020 after the Founder, Austin Rivers, discovered the housing disparities facing LGBTQ+ youth in New York City. Austin learned there were a few nonprofits dedicated to providing housing and/or shelter for this community; however, he knew there was still more to be done; this is where KtR was born.
Austin learned to knit while performing on a tour in Japan and felt he could use these skills to provide warm protective winter garments for LGBTQ+ youth facing homelessness. KtR hopes to educate people across the country about the housing crisis these youth are facing and increase the number of youth served by asking volunteers to knit or crochet at home and donate the garments to KtR to be distributed in New York City and Chicago.
KtR has big plans for the future. We hope to not only serve New York City and Chicago, but to eventually provide winter protective garments to homeless LGBTQ+ youth across the country. In addition, we plan to partner with other nonprofits who provide shelter and housing to these youth and offer knit/crochet classes for their residents so they too can knit garments for themselves and the rest of the community facing this housing crisis.
Board of Directors
Founder, Board Chair, & President
Austin is a diversity, equity, and inclusion professional; activist; and professional actor. Austin is extremely passionate about social justice and civil rights, specifically within the LGBTQ+ and Black communities. He received his BA in Politics from NYU and his Master of Public Administration from the University of Central Florida. In addition, Austin has worked on several progressive political campaigns and in the offices of elected officials in NYC as a Community Liaison. As an actor, he has toured the United States and globally visiting over 20 countries worldwide. Austin currently serves as the Special Assistant to the Chief Diversity Officer at Rockefeller Brother's Fund.
Cecilia Nelson-Hurt is a proud Afro Latina who was taught to crochet as a child by her Grandma Sophie and learned to knit many years later. Known to many in the fibre community as ‘Creative Ceci,’ she is a global knitting and crochet enthusiast. Ceci is a Diversity & Inclusion practitioner for global brand L’Oreal and has over 15 years experience developing and executing initiatives to create an equal opportunity workplace. She leverages her training and experience as a speaker at many fibre events and is also an inaugural member of the ‘Vogue Knitting Live!’ Diversity Advisory Council. Ceci loves to travel and ensures she visits a yarn shop wherever she goes. To date she’s visited over 150 shops both across the USA and internationally.
After going viral for knitting during his daily subway commute from Brooklyn to Manhattan late 2017, 45 year old Puerto Rican Knitwear Designer/Philanthropist Louis Boria aka “Brooklyn Boy Knits”, has turned his passion for fiber arts into a platform where he now works with the community. Louis has been involved with the Fiber Arts for over 13 years, when he was first introduced by his late grandmother. He uses his platform to break down gender norms and tackle issues related to diversity and inclusion within the fiber arts community. He believes that creativity can help heal wounds, both our own and society’s. In 2019, Boria became one of the 8 founding members of the Diversity Advisory Council for Soho Publishing.
Nishant is an activist, journalist, and organizer living in New York. He was a producer working in radio at WNYC in New York and WCRS in Columbus, Ohio. Nishant has been working on campaigns for a few years. Most recently, he has been working with a program called DemocracyNYC to promote civics education and increase voter participation across the five boroughs. Nishant has a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Wittenberg University
Pilar is an actor, tv/film writer, and activist in NYC. Pilar caught the activist bug in third grade when she organized and led her first protest around her neighborhood for women's equal pay. She has organized and worked for several community action projects including STAND UP partnering with the Ludacris Children's Foundation, WAND (Women's Action for a New Direction) Zebra Coalition. She recently wrote three political ads for a PAC targeting the Latinx community to vote for Joe Biden, working on the Marti Cummings Campaign and is a member of the Justice Committee. Pilar has always been passionate about social justice and human rights and combines her love of the arts with her love of politics.
Robyn Hill is currently the Development Manager for SuitUp, Inc, based in NYC, where she is responsible for engaging donors and planning fundraising events. Robyn comes to KtR with 25 years of experience with nonprofits, specifically in the youth development field. She has been a trainer and facilitator for 20 years and is certified to facilitate by the Institute of Cultural Affairs. She sits on the Board of Directors for the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP)-New Mexico Chapter and is a member of AFP-Global. Fun fact about Robyn, she is currently living in an RV full-time, traveling the country with her husband and five year old son, Theo. She has two older children, Kyleigh (18) and Cole (21), is a complete yarn and crochet addict--because let's be honest, collecting yarn and actually using the yarn are two different hobbies--and is a driver of a 1949 fire truck for the Smokey Bear Hot Air Balloon.
Russell Brent is a yarn shop owner, activist, avid knitter, and fledgling crocheter. With a background in Business Administration, Sociology and Theater, he has worked in finance, operations, and events management throughout his career. Combining his love of knitting and management skills, Russell opened a local yarn shop in 2018. Balzac & Co. offers a diverse selection of quality yarns and classes for everybody. He is invested in working with LGBTQ and social justice nonprofit organizations. Russell believes a key element of his work is creating and nurturing community.