The Greater Seattle Business Association, the largest LGBT chamber of commerce in the U.S., raised a record $950,000 at its annual gala, EQUALUX: The TASTE of GSBA, on November 18, 2017.
Approximately 900 guests gathered at the Westin Seattle Hotel for an evening featuring celebrity chefs, 25 Washington wineries, bites prepared by member restaurants and caterers, musical entertainment, a gourmet dinner, and multiple auctions “to raise money to ensure that our LGBTQ and allied students are supported and able to attend college,” said GSBA President and CEO Louise Chernin. “We are a community that understands adversity and we have learned how to take care of our own; we support each other’s businesses, we advocate for equality, and we have the backs of our young people. That depth of support and generosity was in evidence all night as guests enjoyed each other and happily raised their paddles to raise a record amount of funds for our community’s future leaders.”
“Seeing too many LGBTQ youth without support motivated two teachers in 1990 to launch the GSBA Scholarship Fund, the first LGBTQ scholarship fund in the country,” said Travis Mears, Director of Development & Scholarship Programs. “In that initial year, GSBA awarded $5,000 to two scholars. The Fund continues to grow with unprecedented support, and this year GSBA surpassed $3 million in cumulative scholarships as we invested over $400,000 in 45 students. To date we have awarded scholarships to a diverse group of over 500 scholars. None of this would have been possible without the foresight, vision and passion of countless volunteers, donors, and supporters over the years.”
The GSBA Scholarship Fund awards scholarships to LGBTQ and allied students who exhibit leadership potential, demonstrate strong academic abilities, and are actively involved in school and community organizations. Its mission is to invest in the education of a diverse group of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and allied students who have the capacity and vision to be the next generation of leaders working to create a better world for all.
In 2016, the Fund introduced the GSBA Guarantee: the organization’s commitment to the ongoing funding of undergraduate scholars. Every scholar who meets criteria is eligible for up to four years of undergraduate scholarship funding. This commitment to the scholars’ success helps support our future leaders in a way that few programs are able to do.
“In addition to this financial commitment, we launched the Lead Bold Initiative earlier this year. Lead Bold is an organization-wide effort focused on enhancing and supporting the leadership skills, knowledge, and identity discernment of scholars,” said Mears. “As a business chamber, dedicated to social justice, with its finger on the pulse of one of the fastest growing economies in the country, we have taken a stand on improving the landscape of higher education for LGBTQ people.”
The deadline for 2018 applications is January 12, 2018.