Meet Jacqueline White

A North American thought leader on how to create an anti-racist response to youth homelessness that honors a young person’s need for connection, love and belonging, as well as the needs of the caring adults already in their lives who can provide that ongoing support.

Jacqueline founded and served for nearly ten years as executive director of CloseKnit, a Minnesota-based anti-racist system change nonprofit working to catalyze investment in chosen family hosting for youth facing homelessness. In that role, Jacqueline initiated pioneering research that challenges the predominant negative assessment of couch hopping, developed a model to stabilize informal hosting arrangements, and led policy analysis to identify needed system changes. She has presented at regional, national and international conferences in the U.S. and Canada.

Jacqueline’s commitment to addressing youth homelessness is rooted in her experience as a trained volunteer host in a stranger-match host home program for queer youth facing homelessness. While she initially thought the nonprofit she founded should focus on duplicating this model, she soon came to realize that finding adults willing to host a traumatized youth was very difficult. In addition, while the majority of youth facing homelessness are BIPOC, stranger-match programs tend to recruit white hosts like herself, thus perpetuating a White Savior mentality.

At the same time, Jacqueline came to recognize that many adults host youth they already know–but those adults are often drawn from underestimated and under-resourced BIPOC communities. She shifted her response and the direction of the nonprofit toward investing in chosen family hosting and removing the barriers that curtail the generosity of renter households, who are predominately BIPOC, that seek to host young people already in their lives who they care about.

Jacqueline previously worked as a magazine journalist and as an advocate for welcoming schools for all students, including those who are LGBTQ. A cum laude graduate of Yale University, Jacqueline also studied at Union Theological Seminary in New York City and received an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Antioch University–Los Angeles. A Minneapolis resident, she spends as much of her spare time as possible with her bonus grandchildren. She’s likely to offer to show you photos!