"The need for a scholarship like this became apparent a little over two years ago when the Chancellor’s Community Advisory Committee for the LGBT community answered Dr. Glasper’s call to action for Maricopa Community Colleges. He asked what can we do and the response was: ‘Create LGBTQ specific scholarships because we are losing too many of our young people,’" Kathie Gummere, Committee Chairperson and member of Chancellor Rufus Glasper’s Community Advisory Committee, told ‘N Touch News.
Those eligible are young adults under age 25 who have faced negative responses from caregivers because of their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression and are no longer welcome or living at home. This includes youth who have run away from or been forced out of their homes and are now living elsewhere, as well as youth who have aged out of the foster care or juvenile correctional systems. For these youth, education is one of the best means for improvement and change. However, it often takes a back seat to finding a new, stable environment in which to thrive. Once established, they are frequently more prepared to further their education but lack the financial wherewithal to do so. A scholarship can reduce financial barriers and empower disenfranchised LGBTQ youth to pursue higher education.
The Maricopa Community Colleges provide the educational opportunity for these young adults to transition from being dependent to being independent; from needing to be supported by the community – to being able to contribute to it by obtaining an associate’s degree or certificate of completion and/or transfer to a four-year institution.
The OUT and UP Scholarship Fund will greatly improve their chances of becoming confident, self-sustaining adults, and active, contributing members of the community.
"Several of the Maricopa Community Colleges, including Chandler-Gilbert, Paradise Valley and Glendale, have scholarships that support LGBT students, usually at about $500-$1000 per year. The new Out and Up Scholarship is different in two ways. First, it is District wide, so that a student can attend any of the ten Maricopa Community Colleges. Second, the scholarship is for $5000 which will, essentially, support the student through two full years—60 credit hours—enough for an Associate’s Degree and/or to be ready to transfer to the university,” says Dr. Steven Helfgot, President & CEO, Maricopa Community Colleges Foundation.
Working with and advocating for their LGBT students is not new to Maricopa Community Colleges, which has one of the most progressive non-discrimination policies and inclusive policy expression statements in the state of Arizona.
Maricopa Community Colleges has Gay-straight alliance clubs at nine of its ten campuses, which participate in community wide events such as Phoenix AIDS Walk, the Rainbow Festival and the Phoenix Pride Festival. All ten colleges offer an open and accepting atmosphere supporting such events as National Coming Out Day, Ally Week and the National Day of Silence as well as hosting many community LGBTQ events throughout the year. While Chancellor Glasper convenes a LGBT Community Advisory Committee to help Maricopa stay connected to the community at large.
The annual Desperado Gay and Lesbian Film Festival is sponsored by Paradise Valley Community College and their GSA PRIDE Club to raise money for the PVCC Rainbow scholarship at their college. Other campuses produce community art events highlighting LGBTQ artists and their stories, specifically Dear Harvey and The Laramie Project.
Maricopa Community Colleges also offers “Equality Maricopa” a LGBTQ employee constituent group, and, the District supports LGBTQ community organizations, receiving Equality Arizona’s Statewide Corporate Award in 2006 for its commitment to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.
“Every youth, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression, deserves a safe, respectful and healthy learning environment. Maricopa Community Colleges is a leader in community efforts to make this a reality,” Madelaine Adelman, Ph.D., Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), Phoenix, Co-chair and GLSEN National Board Member, told ‘N Touch.
Each scholarship funded will cover full-time tuition, books and fees for up to sixty credit hours, up to $5,000 per student.
"So far, we have raised nearly $60,000 from 47 donors toward our goal of 200K by the end of 2011. This endowment will put into place two scholarships a year for LGBTQ youth. Out of the nearly 2800 scholarships awarded by our Foundation in 2010, the average award was $678. Our award will be a maximum of $2500 per year for each student. With this kind of commitment from the LGBT Community, we will help create a great future for these young people," says Rachel Rabinovich, Senior Development Officer, MCC Foundation.
Every $2,500 donation will provide a student with one year of education. Every $1,250 provides a student one semester of classes. Every $250 donation provides a student one class. And a $150 donation can provide a student with a book voucher.
The deadline for applications is May 1, 2011 for the fall semester. All applications are taken online. Each applicant needs to go to maricopa.edu/foundation and look for the "Out and Up" Logo on the opening page.
To donate online go to maricopa.edu/foundation/egive
For additional information, contact Rachel Rabinovich 480-731-8417, firstname.lastname@example.org or Julie Roberts 602-509-4808, email@example.com.