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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 6 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 23
GSBA awards $330,000 to LGBTQ and allied scholars - Record-breaking amount of scholarships awarded by local businesses
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GSBA awards $330,000 to LGBTQ and allied scholars - Record-breaking amount of scholarships awarded by local businesses

Over 400 business leaders in attendance at the GSBA Scholarship Fund Dinner demonstrated their commitment to invest in the next generation of leaders by awarding over $330,000 in scholarships to LGBTQ and allied students in Washington state.

The GSBA Scholarship Fund awards educational scholarships to undergraduate Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and allied students, who exhibit leadership potential, demonstrate strong academic abilities and are actively involved in school and community organizations.

Scholars reflect a diverse group of students, from rural and urban areas, pursuing a wide range of professions and who have plans to positively impact their community. GSBA is committed to positioning today's students to become tomorrow's leaders. GSBA's Scholarship Fund supports the community through providing financial support, role-modeling and hope to outstanding Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and allied students, many who have no traditional means of support.

'I'm crying, they are happy tears, but I am also so full of thanks,' GSBA scholar, Alejandra Silva Hernandez said. 'I really can't imagine where I would be right now or who I would be, but I know all of your support has allowed me to be someone that I love being.'

The GSBA Scholarship Fund started in 1990 because of the great financial need of Lesbian and Gay students with no other means of support. These students, because of their sexual orientation, were often discriminated against in school, experienced bullying by their peers and may have lost family support. Some were even thrown out of their homes because of their sexual orientation. As a marginalized group, these students may not have received financial aid from more traditional sources.

'I cannot put into words how grateful I feel for this scholarship. We are right in the middle of choosing a college and this money has opened up doors that were not previously possible,' GSBA Scholar Miles French said. 'I'm still in a state of shock. Thank you so much for making this possible.'

Over the years, the GSBA Scholarship Fund has expanded its reach and its mission. Scholarships are now available to students of any age who are Washington state residents. They may be LGBT themselves or come from families with Gay or Lesbian parents, or straight, allied students who are committed to working for civil rights in the LGBT community. In addition, scholarships have been extended to graduate school students if they have received funding from GSBA during their undergraduate education.

'One of the top challenges businesses in Washington state face, is finding employees with the right skill sets to remain competitive,' GSBA President & CEO Louise Chernin said. 'I am proud that GSBA's member businesses have stepped up to meet that challenge by providing access, financial support and encouragement to a diverse group of talented students through the GSBA Scholarship Fund.'

For the third year in a row GSBA has awarded the Microsoft STEM Scholarship. Dozens of Microsoft employees volunteered their time to interview scholarship applications this year, and at the dinner, Microsoft Corporate Vice President Frank Holland presented the GSBA Scholarship Fund with a check for $40,000.

To date, the GSBA Scholarship Fund has awarded over 400 scholarships totaling $1.9 million dollars. GSBA scholarship awards range from $3,000 to $13,000. They provide significant support to students who often have little support from other sources. In addition to financial support, having the acceptance and encouragement from business and professional leaders provides LGBTQ and allied youth role models and the kind of validation important to all youngsters on the road to adulthood.

About the Greater Seattle Business Association
Established in 1981, the Greater Seattle Business Association (GSBA) is the largest LGBT and allied chamber of commerce in North America, with over 1,100 members. GSBA is widely known throughout the Puget Sound region for its work on business development, connecting community through business, advocacy on both civil rights and business and promoting LGBT tourism through its Travel Gay Seattle initiative. GSBA invests in the next generation of leaders by sponsoring a Scholarship Fund, which has given out over $1.9 million in scholarships.

Courtesy of the Greater Seattle Business Association

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