On today’s episode of the Craft Industry Alliance podcast, we’re talking about serving the LGBTQ+ community through craft with my guest Austin Rivers.

Austin is a nonprofit founder; diversity, equity, and inclusion consultant; activist; and professional actor. He received his double bachelor’s degree in politics and musical theatre from NYU, his master of public administration (MPA) from the University of Central Florida, and is starting his PhD in change leadership for equity and inclusion from the University of Central Arkansas this Fall.

Austin has worked on several progressive political campaigns and in the offices of elected officials in NYC. As an actor, he has toured the United States and around the world, performing in over 20 countries. Austin currently serves as the Special Assistant to the Chief Diversity Officer at the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the founder and Board Chair of Knit the Rainbow, Inc., a nonprofit organization that collects and distributes handmade knit and crochet winter garments for homeless and at-risk LGBTQ+ youth.

This episode is sponsored by Crafty.

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austin rivers of Knit the Rainbow

Austin Rivers explains what Knit the Rainbow is all about.

We begin this conversation with Austin talking about what Knit the Rainbow is all about. Next, Austin describes his childhood and education, including how he learned to knit. Austin talks about the bonds that are formed while traveling as a performer.

Austin Rivers at the Knit the Rainbow tent

Knit the Rainbow works with volunteers nationwide to collect, sort, and distribute handmade garments.

During the pandemic, Austin got the idea to create an organization that would serve homeless LGBTQ+ youth in New York City. He explains the significance not only of receiving something warm but also something handmade that truly shows someone cares.

austin rivers of Knit the Rainbow hands out garments

Austin Rivers of Knit the Rainbow with tables of hand-knit and crocheted garments for LGBTQ+ homeless young people.

Austin talks about some of the partnerships he’s formed with yarn brands including Lion Brand Yarn. He also suggests that makers choose Knit the Rainbow as a charity to donate to during this year’s Giving Tuesday.

And, of course, I ask Austin to recommend great stuff he’s enjoying right now. Austin recommends:

Keep up with Knit the Rainbow on its website and on Instagram and make a donation to support Knit the Rainbow right here.