Supporting LGBTQ Higher Education
When Point Foundation’s founders, longtime friends, got together in 2001, one alarming statistic rang out: Nearly one-third of all lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) students drop out of high school, derailing countless dreams of higher education.
That rate, three times the national average, is why Point Foundation is focused on making sure LGBTQ students have the financial and community support necessary to go to college or graduate school.
“Although we have made a lot of progress, and the country as a whole is a much more welcoming place, it’s not the case everywhere,” says Chief Development Officer Eddie Pelto. “LGBTQ students still face homophobia, transphobia and racism – the impact of which can make attaining higher education even more challenging. What we are saying to those students is, ‘There are ways we can help.’”
Point Foundation is the nation’s largest scholarship-granting organization for LGBTQ students. Its goal is to empower promising students to achieve their full academic and leadership potential, despite the obstacles often put before them. It provides financial assistance as well as mentorship to students who have nowhere else to turn and who might have otherwise not been able to attend college.
“It’s not just about the financial support, it’s about building a community and the next generation of leaders,” Pelto says. “Leaders in medicine, public health, science, math, the arts and so much more. Where they’ll be able to be examples for LGBTQ young people who can say, ‘Oh, I can now see myself succeeding in that field.’”
The organization began with eight scholarships given in its first year. This coming 2021 school year, it will award 389 scholarships and grants. That’s double from last year, thanks to the generosity of individual, corporate and foundation supporters.
Point offers various scholarships. Their flagship option provides financial help to students as they attend four-year undergraduate or graduate school as well as tailored mentorship. Other scholarships include community college and a newly developed scholarship for for students who are Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC). Point also offers named scholarships, where donors who make a commitment to the Flagship or Community College scholarship can have it named for someone, including themselves, and receive regular updates on the scholar(s) they are helping support.
The mentorship component is an important part of Point’s programming and students are also obligated to take part in community service initiatives. The idea is that students aren’t just financially supported but taught to embrace their community and learn to be civic-minded leaders.
“When the organization was founded, there was recognition that financial help was an imperative but there needed to be someone for that student to talk to for guidance and for networking,” Pelto says. “We want to help create leaders of the future who can take some of this back to their communities.”
Chief Development Officer: Eddie Pelto
Point Foundation empowers promising lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer students to achieve their full academic and leadership potential – despite the obstacles often put before them – to make a significant impact on society.
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Because of Point’s help I have been able to construct and achieve more goals in my life, both personally and professionally.
Help LGBTQ Students Reach their Dreams
Point Foundation has been helping LGBTQ students achieve their dreams for 20 years. It not only fosters a large and loving community but fortifies students’ success by helping to lift them up so they can lead the way for a better future.
Scholarships range from one-time Opportunity Grants to annually renewing scholarships for students attending four-year undergraduate, graduate, post-graduate, and professional degree programs. Most recently the foundation has been able to fund 69 scholarships for LGBTQ students identifying as Black, indigenous or a person of color. It offers specific support for an often overlooked and under-resourced group of students – this coming year they will award at least 125 more.
With recent large-scale investments from MacKenzie Scott, Victoria’s Secret, and Wells Fargo, it’s Point Foundation’s hope to continue to expand its scholarship offerings and keep awards at a high level with the help of new donations.
Point Foundation Board of Directors
Peter Lichtenthal, Co-Chair
Jen Wohlner, Co-Chair
Alan Guño, Chair Emeritus
Brian Dent, Co-Vice Chair & Treasurer
Stacy Smithers, Co-Vice Chair
Celina Gerbic, Secretary
Aaron P. Leifer