Thousands of dollars in scholarships now available to LGBTQ and allied students

The application for scholarships through the Pride Foundation and the Greater Seattle Business Association opened Oct. 11 — National Coming Out Day. According to a joint press release, “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer — LGBTQ — and ally students of any age from Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, or Washington,” are welcome to apply. The application deadline is Jan. 12 at 5 p.m. PST.

The scholarships are aimed at post-secondary students attending community college, public and private universities, vocational schools and certificate programs. Those who apply must be a post-secondary student and a resident of the Northwest — in any state mentioned above.

One application allows students to be considered for over 50 scholarships — with over $7.82 million awarded to students since 1990. Pride Foundation will be looking for leadership qualities in applicants and will be considering them for four categories of scholarships: academic pursuits, community leadership, cultural identities and geography. A complete list of the scholarships and scholarship funds can be found on the Pride Foundation’s website.

One applicant may receive more than one scholarship — with the largest single scholarship award being $12,000. An average amount of $4,160 was awarded to each recipient last year, according to the Pride Foundation’s website.

As stated in its mission, Pride Foundation “inspires giving to expand opportunities and advance full equality for LGBTQ people across the Northwest.” Their scholarship program seeks to provide financial resources and community support to local LGBTQ students.

Eden Shore, volunteer manager at Pride Foundation, believes these scholarships are crucial because LGBTQ students often face additional barriers in education and in their communities.

“Beyond a check, each Pride Foundation scholar is receiving a vote of confidence from thousands of donors and volunteers who have been contributing for more than 30 years,” Shore said. “Pride Foundation is a connection point for different generations and communities, coming together to bring resources where they can make the biggest difference.”

Pride Foundation will host a free online scholarship workshop to learn more about the foundation and scholarship requirements Dec. 12 at noon PST.

A local scholarship fund in the Seattle area focusing on LGBTQ students is the Greater Seattle Business Association. According to Travis Mears, Director of Development and Scholarship Programs, “GSBA is the largest LGBTQ and allied chamber of commerce in the country.”

A partnership between Pride Foundation and GSBA means students only need to complete one scholarship application for both organizations.

However, students must be a resident of Washington to receive a GSBA scholarship. The GSBA Guarantee — launched in 2016 — commits to supporting scholars through their four years of undergraduate education. If students continue to fulfill the requirements, the amount will be renewed each year.

GSBA has awarded over $3 million to students since 1991 — with their largest current single scholarship being $13,000. Their mission is to support LGBTQ and allied students “who have the capacity and vision to be the next generation of leaders working to create a better world for all.” Highprofile donors to the GSBA’s scholarship fund include Microsoft, Wells Fargo and Alaska Airlines.

“As a business chamber — participation in the local economy is something we value — by mitigating the financial burden for our scholars, they are able to be active participants in their local economies,” Mears said.

GSBA is especially concerned with reducing the amount of debt college students graduate with. Along with financial support, GSBA seeks to promote a sense of community and leadership development among its scholars.

“We plan to invest in your leadership development throughout your time as a GSBA Scholar. Leadership programs are being developed on a continuous basis and will be offered at various times throughout the year,” Mears said.

As part of these programs, scholars will be invited to events, such as retreats and workshops, focusing on leadership development. GSBA also serves as a networking tool for students to connect with people in the industry and possible professional opportunities — hosting various mixers, luncheons and galas.

ILLUSTRATION BY BRUNO MARQUEZ

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