In its 30th year, the Fund works to help LGBTQ students through increased financial stress and isolation due to global pandemic
Cade Schmidt (He/him) GSBA Marketing Specialist
SEATTLE (October 7, 2020)
— The GSBA Scholarship Fund
will again open to applicants across Washington this Sunday, Oct. 11
– on National Coming Out Day - as it celebrates its thirtieth year, making it the oldest LGBTQ scholarship program in the US. Applications are due by Friday, Jan. 8, 2021
at 5:00 p.m. PST.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, LGBTQ and allied students are facing unprecedented challenges on top of increased financial stress, as classes have been moved online and college campuses have often been the first welcoming spaces young LGBTQ community members encounter. In addition to financial assistance, the GSBA Scholarship Fund provides virtual community space and lifelong connections to help future LGBTQ leaders succeed in all areas of their lives.
The GSBA Scholarship Fund awards scholarships to students who exhibit leadership potential, demonstrate strong academic abilities, and are actively involved in their school and community organizations. This financial support is for students pursuing any kind of post-secondary education including public or private colleges and universities, community college, associates degrees, trade schools, and certificate programs. Applicants must be Washington State residents but can attend any accredited educational institution anywhere in the world. GSBA doesn’t ask citizenship status of applicants.
“(Being a GSBA Scholar) has enabled me to feel some security even as the political and financial state of this country is anything but secure,” said Rowan Postyeni
, Three-Year GSBA Scholar. “GSBA has given me a network of other passionate individuals to connect with, and the opportunity to branch out to have important conversations I may have not had otherwise. I’ve always been introverted, but I've learned how to still have a voice where it matters, and speak accordingly. With the help of GSBA, I've been able to develop my own story, with experiences shaped by the genuine humanity of others to create a truly remarkable narrative.”
The average scholarship amount is $8,300 annually per student. A unique aspect of the GSBA Scholarship Fund is the GSBA Guarantee
, a commitment to support students for up to four years of their undergraduate education. In addition, the Beeks Family Open Arms Fund
provides emergency financial assistance to scholars in need. Since the pandemic began, many scholars have utilized this program to help pay for rent, groceries, utility bills, textbooks, and more.
Financial barriers, often due to family estrangement, is a primary factor for LGBTQ students who aren’t able to complete their education. By significantly decreasing (and in many cases, eliminating) this barrier, GSBA has paved the way for students to focus on their academics, and connect to the community around them. According to the National Center for Graduation Statistics, the six-year graduation rate for first-time, full-time undergraduate students who began seeking a bachelor’s degree at four-year colleges in fall 2012 was 62 percent. Comparatively, 81 percent of all GSBA scholars have graduated from college, and for those who have been awarded three or more years of support, this increases to a 91 percent graduation rate.
GSBA Scholars also engage in year-long events to connect students with LGBTQ peers from around the state and provide tailored learning opportunities, such as the Leadership Immersion Weekend, a three-day LGBTQ community building and learning experience which continued in 2020 in a virtual format.
“Especially during this time of social isolation, GSBA has leaned even further into our role of creating space for scholars to build community with one another,” said Taylor Briggs, GSBA Scholarship Program Manager. “Over the past several months, we have hosted several virtual social hangouts and leadership development opportunities. It’s been really cool to see scholars who have never actually met in person getting to know each other and learning together.”
Also continuing in virtual format this year, is the program’s annual fundraiser gala – EQUALUX, which will take place as a week-long online auction, culminating with EQUALUX 2020: A Virtual Concert for Our Scholars
on Saturday, Nov. 21 at 6:00 p.m. (PST)
on Facebook Live and YouTube Live. In 2019, over $1.6 million was raised at EQUALUX, allowing $600,000 to be invested in 60 scholars in 2020.
To learn more about the GSBA Scholarship Fund and to apply, visit
About the GSBA Scholarship Fund
Since its founding in 1990, the GSBA Scholarship Fund has invested over $4.5 million in LGBTQ students who exemplify leadership potential, strong academic ability, and community involvement and dedication. The scholarship program works to empower students with marginalized intersectional identities within the LGBTQ community and provides not only financial support for LGBTQ students, but a network of support, skills-based workshops, and leadership training. Throughout its 30-year history, the GSBA Scholarship has awarded 827 scholarships to 490 students. In 2020, $600,000 has been invested in 60 LGBTQ and allied students.
Established in 1981, GSBA is Washington State's LGBTQ and allied chamber of commerce and is the largest of its kind in North America. The chamber represents over 1,400 small business, corporate, and nonprofit members who share the values of promoting diversity, equity, equality, and inclusion in the workplace. GSBA proudly serves as a connector across the region, bringing communities together through business while advocating for civil rights and small business. GSBA also promotes LGBTQ tourism through Travel Out Seattle, advocates for small businesses in Seattle’s Capitol Hill Neighborhood through the Capitol Hill Business Alliance (CHBA), and invests in the next generation of LGBTQ and allied leaders through the GSBA Scholarship & Education Fund.