In an era where the cost of college presents a troubling obstacle to most aspiring students, the Point Foundation seeks to fill a unique void in the philanthropic world of educational opportunities. As the nation’s largest scholarship-granting organization for LGBTQ undergraduate and graduate students, Point welcomes each new scholar into a family of 165 alumni who comprise a network of support throughout their academic and professional careers.
Becoming a Point scholar is a highly competitive process; less than 5 percent of all applicants will join the class of 2014. By the time these scholars receive notice of their award, they will have submitted a two part application and participated in both phone and in-person interviews with Point board members and staff.
Michelle Carnes, a Point alum, received scholarship funding from 2005-2007 to support her doctoral fieldwork studying connections between public health and erotic strip events among Washington, D.C.’s black lesbian communities in the Public Anthropology Ph.D. program at American University.
“Being a Point Scholar allowed me to feel that my work was valuable and making a contribution to society. It was as if I had an entire community rooting for me, backing my fieldwork, and understanding my contributions,” says Carnes.
She states that because of Point, her “life completely changed.” After she graduated she felt “accomplished,” “valuable,” and has been giving back to the Point family ever since. Carnes works with other Point scholars providing mentorship, serving as a resource through social networking, and coordinating conferences and networking events. She feels that you have an immediate family when you become involved with the Point Foundation.
Carnes is now a public health anthropologist specializing in cultural taboos and their impact on health disparities. Her research focuses on LGBTQ underground social spaces and gentrification in Washington D.C. and New York City. Her community-based work focuses on confronting historical trauma to reduce American Indian/Alaska Native and LGBTQ youth suicide. Carnes also recently spoke at a White House forum on LGBT health.
Point provides benefits to their scholars that reach far beyond financial assistance. Each scholar is paired with a mentor, provided access to Regional Leadership Forums (RLF), and the annual national Scholar and Alumni Leadership Conference. This year, the D.C. Board of Trustees partnered with PricewaterhouseCoopers to present a seminar at the D.C. RLF on financial literacy to Point scholars and alumni.
Nicole Sterling, a member of the 2013 scholar class, is a freshman at Towson University. She is currently majoring in communications with a minor in business and hopes to start a non-profit organization to help the victims of genocide in Uganda and Rwanda.
In her junior year of high school, Sterling was elected president of Allies 4 Equality (A4E) which received the GLSEN inaugural Gay Straight Alliance of the Year award in 2012. This was due to the efforts of Sterling and her A4E classmates, who created the Allie the Ally campaign to spread awareness and support for LGBTQ youth around the world.
“[My first few months of college] I had some challenging times with a roommate. My Point mentor, who happens to be a professor at Towson, provided me with much needed support,” says Sterling. “I also spoke with Vince Garcia, (Scholar Relations & Selections Program Director) and he provided guidance”.
As part of its commitment to the LGBTQ community, Point requires each scholar to conduct a community service project. Sterling has taken this opportunity to volunteer with YES, an organization that gives homeless LGBTQ community members a safe place to sleep at night.
To learn more about the Point Foundation and show your support, you can join Carnes, Sterling, and our many other local scholars and alumni at the 2014 Point Foundation Cornerstone Event being held on Thursday, May 8 at Room & Board in Washington D.C. For more information and to purchase tickets go to http://www.pointfoundation.org/dc2014