Featured Charity: Point Foundation
By Sarah Ford on April 20, 2012
In addition to providing financial support, mentoring, and leadership training - Point Foundation provides hope to meritorious students who are marginalized due to sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
What does your organization do and whom do you serve?
Point Foundation (Point) is the nation's largest scholarship-granting organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students of merit. Point provides financial support, leadership training, mentoring and hope to LGBT individuals who are marginalized because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
Unlike many other scholarships, in addition to providing financial support, Point Foundation matches each scholar with a mentor. Point Mentors assist Point Scholars with professional career decisions, including the pursuit of graduate studies and job opportunities after graduation. Point Scholars also receive intensive training in leadership development, accountability, community service guidance, and advocacy and philanthropy to the LGBT community.
Point Foundation is headquartered in Los Angeles, CA with an additional office in New York City. Point’s application process is open to all college students regardless of citizenship. However, the organization’s scope of support is limited to higher educational pursuits at accredited institutions that are located within the U.S.
How have you responded to the economic crisis?
The economic crisis has made it even more important for people to get a higher education degree to attain job security. Yet student debt is expected to pass the $1 trillion mark this year. So Point has seen a great increase in the number of young people seeking financial assistance via scholarships, as well as mentoring assistance for career and life-goals advice. Even in a challenging economic environment Point supporters have continued to give generously so that new scholarships are awarded each year and current scholars continue to receive support through the completion of their academic studies.
Is there a time during the year when you need more help than usual?
You can help Point’s Scholars every day, 365 days a year. Point Foundation commits to “being there” for our scholars every day of the academic year, as well as during summer internships, and at our annual leadership conference typically held in July. So, every day is a great day to support Point and our accomplished scholars. Corporate sponsorships are recognized at events in major metropolitan areas throughout the year.
How can I help?
Let your friends and colleagues know that bullied and harassed LGBT youth deserve equal access to higher education, and it’s our responsibility to support the next generation of LGBT community leaders. Log on to Point’s website and meet some of our incredible scholars; their stories of bravery in the face of discrimination and personal challenges will inspire you. Please support Point’s general scholarship fund with a donation.
How can my company help?
Over 120 of America’s most successful brands support Point Foundation, from Audi of America and Allstate to HBO, Sara Lee, Time Warner, Wal-Mart, and Wells Fargo—to name only a few. There are many ways companies—large and small—can help Point:
- Send a corporate gift to advance our mentoring, internships, and leadership training programs that benefit each and every Point Scholar and alumni nationwide
- Sponsor one or more of our Cornerstone Society events held in major cities nationwide
- Sponsor one of our gala events in New York and/or Los Angeles, during the spring and fall respectively
- Help us start a conversation with your firm’s diversity office about the possibility of funding a scholarship named for your company
- Donate in-kind gifts of products or pro bono services
What kind of impact will my donation have?
Point has a current roster of 71 scholars whom we are committed to assisting with tuition and living expenses for the two to four years they will be in school. So donations have an immediate impact in helping these students (many who also work while in school).
An example is Rickke Mananzala’s story:
He was kicked out of his home at the age of 16 for being gay. He started college but couldn’t afford to stay enrolled and had to drop out. Now, with a Point Foundation Scholarship, he is finishing his degree at Columbia University. As Rickke explains, “12 years ago I had to withdraw from college because I could not afford it. Now Point is providing the support I need to finish my undergraduate degree, continue on to a graduate degree and shape the next phase of my commitment to the social justice movement."
What do you wish more people knew about your organization?
All Point Scholars are required to complete a community service project and give back to community. It is empowering for the scholars because they see the impact they can have on people’s lives today, even before they have earned their degrees.
What makes your organization successful?
Point Foundation staff and board members work very hard at knowing our constituency. We involve scholars, alumni, mentors and donors in much of the planning we do. An organization can’t evolve and grow if communication is an internal echo chamber of just staff and board speaking among each other. It is important to listen to the people you are trying to serve and the people who support you.
Do you have any current or upcoming events?
Funding for $2 million to support higher education scholarships for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students was announced and raised at the April 16, 2012 Point Honors New York gala. More than 500 people attended the event benefiting Point Foundation. Playwright Edward Albee and global film company Focus Features received awards for being champions of the LGBT community. Click here to see pictures and read more about the event.
- Upcoming Cornerstone Society Events: Point also has events coming up in May and June in Washington D.C., Los Angeles and San Francisco where local supporters can meet Point Scholars studying in the area and local alumni.
May 3, 2012 – Washington DC Cornerstone
May 10, 2012 – San Francisco Cornerstone
June 7, 2012 – Save the date for Los Angeles Cornerstone
These Cornerstone Society events are a great way to learn more about Point Foundation and details about each event are available at www.pointfoundation.org/events.