During the 1990s and 2000s, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) organisations and foundations proliferated, due to a growing number of individuals who identified themselves in those terms and an increase in donations to LGBT organisations. Furthermore, LGBT identities were incorporated into a few organisations' diversity statements and commitments. As a result, many LGBT organisations offer scholarships and grants to students and activists, and some scholarships and grants promoting diversity are open to applications from LGBT individuals.
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Nearly every national LGBT organisation and many regional organisations (including the Human Rights Campaign and Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, or PFLAG) offer scholarships to LGBT college students. The Point Foundation is a national organisation that exists solely to provide scholarships to LGBT students. The Point Foundation supports the personal and academic development of LGBT students; it is particularly interested in supporting those who do not have the support of their families or other traditional support structures. The Point Foundation's application form asks for the applicant's contact information, educational background, test scores, family situation and finances. It also requires three 250-word essays on how the applicant has made a positive change in her or others' lives, academic aspirations and expectations; and the applicant's experience with marginalisation.
A grant is money given to an organisation or individual for the purpose of creating or running a project. While the recipient does not have to pay the grant back, the recipient must follow the guidelines and requests of the funder and use the money to do what was outlined in the grant application. Many LGBT organisations offer grants to individuals and smaller organisations to create and run projects serving the LGBT community. For example, the Pride Foundation is an organisation that serves the Northwest region of the United States. It has provided over £5 million in grant funding since 1987 to projects in one of six funding categories (Arts, Education, Lesbian Health, Community Health, HIV Services and Family Services). The applicant must either be a 501(c)3 or affiliated with one, and the maximum award is £3,250. To apply, the organisation must submit proof of 501(c)3 status, an application cover sheet with contact information and a five-page explanation of the project and how the funds will be used, along with a budget.
Begin your search by reviewing the links to LGBT scholarship applications located in the Resources section. Contact your school's financial aid office and ask for a list of funding opportunities for LGBT students. You should then call or visit the LGBT organisations in your city and state and look into their scholarship programs. National scholarships usually offer more money, but regional and local scholarships draw from a smaller pool of possible applicants and are therefore less competitive.
Many businesses and colleges have scholarship funds to promote diversity in higher education. Robin Chang, Assistant Director of the University of Washington's Office of Merit Scholarships, says that "there are a number of awards that use language like 'diversity' and 'underrepresented,' which we believe would be open to LGBT applicants making the case for inclusion in those categories," but that none of the high-profile, national diversity scholarships publish eligibility guidelines explicitly including LGBT individuals in definitions of "minority." In view of this, LGBT individuals should call their college's LGBT Resource Center or Financial Aid Center to see if they qualify for any diversity scholarships.
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