Vancouver businesses to offer scholarships

Program to target queer post-secondary students

Queer students looking to pursue post-secondary education will soon be eligible for financial assistance for their studies thanks to a new scholarship program from BC’s queer business community.

The Gay and Lesbian Business Association of BC (GLBA) is working on a program to provide financial assistance and mentoring opportunities to post-secondary-bound individuals who self-identify as members of the queer community.

“We think it’s important to give back to the community and we’re demonstrating social responsibility by nurturing future leaders,” says GLBA co-chair Lisa Voldeng.

The scholarships will be awarded based on candidates’ academic and community achievements as well as their potential future achievements for themselves, the queer community and the culture at large, says Voldeng.

The scholarship program will be funded by charitable donations from individuals, corporations and the GLBA itself.

Voldeng says the number of scholarships to be awarded each year is still being determined; however, the association is aiming to give out fewer scholarships, each with a high dollar value, to better benefit each recipient.

Steve LeBel, spokesperson for the Gay and Lesbian Educators of BC (GALE), is excited about the program. “This is a very positive thing that the GLBA is doing,” he says. “It can be difficult for anyone to pay for their post-secondary education, so every little bit helps.”

LeBel says GALE, which has its own limited scholarship program for queer and queer-friendly high school students, welcomes the GLBA initiative and hopes other groups will pick up on the idea by either working with the business association or coming up with their own programs.

A gala fundraising event for the scholarship program, the GLBA’s 2007 Red Dress Ball, will take place Apr 27 at the Commodore Ballroom (870 Granville St). For more information on the scholarship program, call 604.739.4522 or e-mail: info@glba.org.

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