Last week, representatives from historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) gathered in Washington, D.C., at a summit organized by the Human Rights Campaign. The purpose of the summit was to address the issue that HBCUs have been slow to support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth.
This lack of inclusion means that many black LGBTQ students are choosing to attend elsewhere.
“One of the reasons I chose to attend the University of Pennsylvania is because I didn’t see much effort in recruiting LGBTQ students at HBCUs,” said Ernest Owens, an award-winning journalist who has reported extensively on racial diversity in the LGBTQ community.
One HBCU, Spelman College, hopes to change the conversation about LGBTQ issues on campus with its new scholars program for student LGBTQ advocates.
Spelman College offers two $25,000 scholarships to LGBTQ advocates
In May 2017, Spelman College alumna and professor, Beverly Guy-Sheftall, Ph.D., launched the Dr. Levi Watkins Jr. Scholars Program and companion lecture series with a pledge of $100,000. The lecture series, set to begin in 2018, will explore the issues of race, sexuality, and gender.
“[T]his gift will present new opportunities for critical conversation on race and sexuality with distinguished scholars and thought leaders, and provide a platform to recognize campus LGBTQ advocates and their scholarly achievements,” said Spelman College President Mary Schmidt Campbell in a press release.
As part of the Dr. Levi Watkins Jr. Scholars Program, Spelman recently announced it will award two sophomore LGBTQ advocates renewable scholarships of $25,000 each, beginning in fall of 2017.
“The scholars will call attention to the importance of making visible the courageous and significant work of LGBTQ scholar activists within and beyond the academy, especially at HBCUs,” said Dr. Guy-Sheftall.
Owens applauded the recognition of LGBTQ advocates through the scholarships. “U-Penn had scholarships and recruitment efforts targeting my racial identity as well as my sexual and gender identity,” he said. “When I heard about the Spelman scholarship, I was pleased to see them considering intersectionality in that spectrum. HBCUs need to go beyond race.”
Expanding the conversation
Adding LGBTQ issues to the conversation is a big reason to applaud the efforts of schools working to address these issues, said Owens. It’s especially important for HBCUs. Owens believes HBCUs have been behind the times in acknowledging and supporting the presence of LGBTQ students on their campuses.
“We need more programs like this that support the conversations around sexual and gender identity, as well as where it intersects with race,” said Owens. “I’d like to see more of this on college campuses across the country. Too many people get their information from pop culture and aren’t enriched in academic settings.”
Inviting student LGBTQ advocates on campus and encouraging programs that examine these issues can lead to greater awareness and promote a change in the community. “This scholarship and lecture program is a recruitment measure that can help Spelman stand out,” he said. “They’re ahead of other HBCUs, and I hope to see a ripple effect that will benefit the entire community.”
LGBTQ scholarships can help underserved youth
Unfortunately, LGBTQ youth face an uphill battle when it comes to attending college, particularly youth of color.
“Forty percent of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ,” said John Schneider, an LGBTQ financial advocate and founder of the Queer Money podcast. “Without the right support, LGBTQ youth struggle to qualify and pay for college. It makes it that much harder for them to succeed as adults.”
According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, “LGBTQ homeless youth are disproportionately African American or American Indian, and often from low-income communities, and from poor or working class families.”
Encouraging scholarships for LGBTQ youth can go a long way toward helping underserved youth attend college. “Such a scholarship lets struggling youth know that someone out there cares and is willing to provide an avenue to help them succeed,” Schneider said.
Scholarships aimed at marginalized populations can also empower students to speak up on campus and be a crucial part of the conversation. “I’ve known so many queer black scholars of the future who don’t feel like they have support or a place,” Owens said. “It’s gratifying to see a scholarship like this, especially at an HBCU like Spelman, designated for including others. Spelman is putting its money where its mouth is.”
Find your own scholarship
If you’re struggling to find ways to pay for college, there are plenty of scholarship programs that focus on different demographics. Some of these scholarships are small, but if you apply for several, it can add up to help you pay for college. Take a look at our guide on finding scholarships to help you find ways to pay for college — no matter your situation.
Image credit: Spelman College
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1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.89% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.97% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.47% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.23% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of Month/Day/Year, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 08/21/18. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at email@example.com, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on ourstudent loan refinance product.
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2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
Savings example: average savings calculated based on single loans refinanced from 9/2013 to 12/2017 where borrowers’ previous rates were disclosed. Assumes same loan terms for previous and refinanced loans, and payments made to maturity with no prepayments. Actual savings for individual loans vary based on loan balance, interest rates, and other factors.
Application detail: 5 minutes indicates typical time it takes to complete application with applicant information readily available. It does not include time taken to provide underwriting decision or funding of the loan.
Instant rates mean a delivery of personalized rates for those individuals who provide sufficient information to return a rate. For instant rates a soft credit pull will be conducted, which will not affect your credit score. To proceed with an application, a hard credit pull will be required, which may affect your credit score.
Total savings calculated by aggregating individual average savings across total borrower population from 9/2013 to 12/2017. Individual average savings calculation based on single loans refinanced from 9/2013 to 12/2017 where borrowers’ previous rates were provided. Assumes same loan terms for previous and refinanced loans, and payments made to maturity with no prepayments. Actual savings for individual loans vary based on loan balance, interest rates, and other factors.
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
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