About a year ago I was contacted by Joanne Herman with respect to an opportunity to get involved with the Point Foundation. My exposure to the Point Foundation prior to this was limited and so began a series of discussions and meetings that eventually led to my joining the Board of Directors in October 2013. In that process I was delighted to discover my dear friend Rev. Jamie Washington is also involved with Point as a mentor to a Point Scholar. I was indeed joining a community of friends and peers, and I was honored to be asked to serve.
For those who are unaware the Point Foundation provides scholarships to LGBTQ students:
“Point Foundation empowers promising LGBTQ students to achieve their full academic and leadership potential – despite the obstacles often put before them – to make a significant impact on society.”
This is a competitive, needs based, scholarship program offered to the best and brightest LGBTQ youth for both undergraduate and graduate programs.
Thousands of applicants are whittled down to about 30 candidates for each of the undergrad and graduate programs. Those 30 are then further paired down by telephone interviews to about 18 finalists in each category and flown at Point’s expense to San Francisco in April of each year where they are interviewed and allowed to present themselves to a panel of Point Board members for consideration. I had the pleasure of participating in this exercise this past weekend in San Francisco and to say it was humbling and enlightening would be an understatement.
Often we do not have a good impression of young people and have fears for the future of our society and positive outcomes. I have been blessed with participation in organizations like FIRST Robotics and the Boy Scouts that have shown me that many of those concerns need to be tempered by understanding that we have raised, and are still raising, a generation of young persons who are more worldly, better educated and clearly more goal focused than I can recall from my own youth.
In this case Point looks for those candidates who represent the best of the best from the LGBTQ community as a way of planting seeds for the future. For many of these candidates if Point was unable to provide some support college might be out of reach.
Point also offers mentorship to these scholars by assigning them a one-on-one mentor from the community to help them with any issues or concerns as they complete their degree programs. I have heard Point scholars express that they value this aspect of the program perhaps even more than the educational funding.
Although I presently cannot offer any details about the selected scholars for the 2014 class I can tell you I was blown away by the quality and diversity of these candidates. All elements of the rainbow flag were present and will be represented in the final selections due out in a few months. It was my privilege to be a Trans “face” for this process. Many students referenced the fact that the Point interviewers and board members living “out”, productive, and successful lives were an inspiration to them and part of why they were there competing.
I was dismayed that all of the candidates we did see would not be offered a scholarship this year even though, most, if not all, were worthy of our support. In the end the success of Point is dependent on financial resource, donations and volunteers. I know for our Trans community that can be a challenge but I also know that in our greater LGBTQ community there are many who can help and I would encourage you to do so. There is no better investment you could make in our collective future. That is certainly one way for you to make a Point too.
The Point Foundation Washington, DC Cornerstone Event will be held Thursday, May 8, 2014 at Room & Board, 1840 14th St., NW, Washington DC, 6:30 – 8:30 PM. Tickets are available here: http://pointfoundation.org/dc2014