Maricopa Colleges Foundation Creates Scholarship for LGBTQ Students
The Maricopa Community Colleges Foundation believes there isn’t another scholarship program quite like it in Arizona, and they’re hoping donors and students will feel the same way.
The OUT and UP Endowed Scholarship Fund, which is halfway to raising its one-year goal of $200,000, will award no less than two scholarships in perpetuity once funds for the endowment have been raised, said Rachel Rabinovich, senior development officer for the Maricopa Community Colleges Foundation.
“It’s an opportunity for disenfranchised lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender and queer/questioning young adults who’ve faced negative responses from their families of origin because of their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression,” she said. “These young people (25 years and under) are neither supported emotionally nor financially by their families. LGBTQ youth who grow up in the foster care system often experience the same lack of emotional support.”
“Once they reach 18, they find themselves on the streets without financial help as well,” said Julie Roberts, LGBTQ Liaison to Maricopa Community Colleges Foundation, who noted that according to the National Mental Health Association, 28 percent of gay and lesbian students drop out of school, three times the national average. In addition, according to the National School Climate Survey of the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network, gay students are twice as likely as the general population to report they had no plans to go to college.
“The Maricopa Community Colleges and its Foundation are in a unique position to provide these young people access to higher education and assist their transition from being dependent to being independent, from needing to be supported by the community to being able to contribute to it,” Roberts added.
More than $88,000 has been raised from 125 donors since the scholarship’s launch at the Desperado Film Festival in late January, 2011.
Each OUT and UP Endowed Scholarship will cover tuition, books and fees up to 60 credit hours and $5,000. It will be renewable each semester, as long as the recipient upholds a minimum 2.0 GPA and completes at least nine credit hours each semester.
Currently, nine of the 10 Maricopa Community Colleges have active gay-straight alliances (GSA) whose faculty advisors are all members of the LGBTQ employee constituent group, Equality Maricopa. All 10 colleges have faculty and staff who have completed two-day Safe Space Training, and are openly identified in their offices as allies to the LGBTQ community. All campuses provide a safe environment for learning, success and personal growth, Rabinovich said.
“Three of our colleges (Chandler-Gilbert, Glendale and Paradise Valley) have established their own LGBTQ scholarships, but the OUT and UP Endowed Scholarship will be the first of its kind,” she added.
More information is available by contacting Rabinovich at (480)731-8417, or email firstname.lastname@example.org, or LGBTQ Liaison Julie Roberts at (602)509-4808, or email email@example.com. More information about the Foundation and online donations is available at www.maricopa.edu/foundation.
About the Maricopa Community Colleges: The Maricopa County Community College District is one of the largest community college districts in the nation. It includes 10 colleges - Chandler-Gilbert Community College, Estrella Mountain Community College, GateWay Community College, Glendale Community College, Mesa Community College, Paradise Valley Community College, Phoenix College, Rio Salado College, Scottsdale Community College and South Mountain Community College. The District also includes the Maricopa Skill Center, SouthWest Skill Center, several satellite campuses and business/industry, technical and customized training institutes and serves more than a quarter million students annually. For more information: 480-731-8333, 480-731-8000 or www.maricopa.edu. District News: www.maricopa.edu/press.