OutReach's history is rooted in the pasts of several different community organizations beginning with Crossroads of Madison, Inc. which was incorporated in 1969, followed by Renaissance of Madison, Inc. and the Madison Gay Center, which was located at 10 Langdon Street and offered information by phone, drop-in peer counseling, reading materials, and a joint lesbian and gay speakers bureau. After the Lesbian Switchboard closed, the Gay Center was renamed the Madison Gay and Lesbian Resource Center (MGLRC). In July of 1973, MGLRC was incorporated as a non-profit. It moved to several locations over the years, but its services were never interrupted. OutReach and its predecessors have offered the community continuous service for 34 years.
The United was formed in 1978 as a political action organization to defend the Madison's non-discrimination ordinance against the anti-LGB campaign led nationally by singer Anita Bryant and locally by an evangelical minister. After that threat passed, The United identified new battles and issues. After working collaboratively for nearly 15 years, the two organizations merged into a new agency called OutReach, Inc., on July 1, 1998.
Since the merger in the late ‘90’s, OutReach has grown and expanded its services. The organization moved to a new office at the Gateway Mall in 1999 which tripled its space, and offered a larger private social and support group and conference room.
The Earl Greely Memorial Library expanded, adding many new volumes, and a cybercenter was added and upgraded to the David Bohnett Cybercenter in 2008.
OutReach also offers a public meeting space and drop in center in the library area. OutReach’s publications, the Monthly Calendar & Guide and annual Directory have grown and improved as the community needs have changed.
A website was added and upgraded several times over the years. The Speaker’s Bureau now reaches thousands of people in colleges, businesses, churches and civic groups. OutReach has added a youth and senior program, and offered health programs in HIV prevention, smoking cessation, alcohol and other drug prevention, and domestic violence.
OutReach has also partnered with a variety of nonprofit groups such as Diverse & Resilient, Domestic Abuse Intervention Services, and others to expand our programs. We have increased our staff, consultants, interns and volunteers to more than 100. We have grown to more fully meet our mission, vision and values.
OutReach expanded it’s services into Rock County in November of 2010. The groups mission is to reach those people who identify as LGBT in Rock County. The group has been meeting twice a month at a local open and affirming church in Janesville.
As of 2019, OutReach has taken the organization of the annual PRIDE festival in Madison WI under its umbrella of services.
OutReach LGBT Community Center moved locations from its home of over a decade (600 Williamson) to 2701 International Lane in the late summer of 2016. With more space and more events, OutReach continues to grow and flourish in the LGBT Community of SC Wisconsin!