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Getting Their Point Across

Getting Their Point Across


This Thursday the Point Foundation will announce the 2010 recipients of its Point Scholarships, which provide comprehensive financial support, mentoring, and leadership training for deserving students marginalized because of their LGBT identity. In conjunction with the scholarship announcement, a summer series of Cornerstone events, which kicks off this Thursday in Los Angeles, will allow current donors to meet local students and alumni assisted by their contributions, and provide an opportunity for new donors to discover how they can help.

"Our Cornerstone event is an opportunity for us at different times throughout the year in different parts of the country to engage those who may be interested in being part of our major donor program," said Point Foundation executive director Jorge Valencia. "We do have a number of current numbers that attend and choose to renew their membership and we hope to draw a number of new members. It's an effort to bring people together and celebrate Pride in a different way."

At the Los Angeles-area event, attendees will hear from a Point Foundation scholar enrolled at UCLA and from a 2010 scholar to be announced Thursday. The new group of scholars is "double" the 11 awards presented in 2009, according to Valencia, who said 1,600 students completed this year's application process on time. All told, more than 100 Point Scholarships have been awarded to meritorious LGBT students in the program's near decade of existence.

Valencia says the Cornerstone events, which have taken place in different cities for several years, attract anywhere form 50 to 200 people and can raise from $50,000 to $200,000, depending on the year. That makes the events an essential part of the organization's fund-raising for LGBT scholars spurned by their families and communities, particularly in difficult economic times.

"Over the last year, like many nonprofit organizations and for-profit organizations, the economy really stung us," said Valencia. "So we did have to make appropriate adjustments to our staffing and our budgets, keeping in mind always the longevity of the organization and the support of our scholars."

Valencia says challenging conditions prompted the foundation to think strategically in order to remain successful -- for example, by choosing to present its annual Leadership Conference regionally rather than nationally last year.

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The Point Foundation will be hosting its annual Cornerstone fund-raising events throughout the summer: in Los Angeles Thursday, June 10; in San Francisco Thursday, June 24; and in Chicago Friday, July 16. Click here for more information.

Among those who benefited from the support of generous individuals, foundations and corporations in tough times is Kyle Rapinan, a 2009 Point Foundation scholar enrolled at the University of Washington.

"When I was a freshman I was under a lot more emotional and financial stress," said the college sophomore. "Transitioning from high school to college is hard for everyone, but especially for people who don't have families to rely on, Point provides a family that we can draw on."

A Seattle native, Rapinan escaped a violently homophobic and abusive family at age 15. He lived with friends throughout high school, and became a statewide young LGBT leader. Currently engaged in a project about building queer youth space, he hopes to attend law or graduate school and position himself to help local LGBT youngsters with a background similar to his own.

"I think support from the community is especially important because Point is providing resources to people kicked out of their homes, who overcome tremendous obstacles and have the merits to deserve support," he said. "You're kind of getting the best of both worlds, because you're supporting the next generation of LGBT leaders and people who really need it."

Valencia agrees, saying donors old and new find gratification in giving to LGBT youths with a track record of beating the odds to become tomorrow's leaders.

"The part about Point is that these young people are not only dealing with that rejection from communities and families, but they are resilient in that they are graduating as valedictorians of their school," he said. "They are the starting GSAs. Some of them are living in cars. What they want is an opportunity to give back, to get that education. For individuals who believe in a legacy, who believe that education is really a way to change our society, this is for them."


The Point Foundation will be hosting its annual cornerstone fundraising events throughout the summer: in Los Angeles Thursday, June 10; in San Francisco Thursday, June 24; and in Chicago Friday, July 16. Click here for more information.

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