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Indiana University alumni group launches unprecedented LGBT scholarship campaign

The Indiana University GLBT Alumni Association on Sept. 10 launched the nation’s first-ever scholarship campaign devoted to assisting LGBT students and promoting leadership on LGBT concerns.

Bolstered by an anonymous $500,000 challenge gift, the campaign kicked off with more than $200,000 in cash and pledges.

“We are very proud to be a university known for welcoming and supporting GLBT students,” said IU executive vice president and IU Bloomington provost Lauren Robel. “This scholarship campaign will help us recruit and educate future leaders. Our GLBT Alumni Association has truly led the way in demonstrating how an alumni group can carry forward a legacy of community support, and it has been wonderful and moving to see how many alumni and friends have already stepped forward to get this campaign off the ground.”

The campaign aims to significantly increase support for both academic and emergency scholarships, which the association has funded since 2005 through donations from alumni and friends.

Full- or part-time students enrolled at any IU campus may apply for the academic scholarships, which are awarded based on academics, career goals, financial need, leadership and community service.

Additional consideration is given for involvement in activities promoting diversity or raising awareness of LGBT and related issues.

Emergency scholarships are for undergraduate students who have lost the financial support of their families after disclosing their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The campaign also includes a $50,000 commitment to the GLBT Student Support Services Office.

“The generosity of the anonymous donor and of those who have contributed will enable students to have the needed resources to stay in school and focus on their scholarly pursuits rather than how to make ends meet,” James C. Wimbush, IU vice president for diversity, equality and multicultural affairs and dean of the University Graduate School said in a news release. “Even more, this effort reinforces the fact that Indiana University is inclusive and values the diversity of its students. I’m proud to be part of this wonderful nurturing environment.”

Established in 1997, the association is an active alumni organization with more than 1,500 members nationwide.

“The GLBTAA is especially proud of our scholarship program, which helps both academically strong students and students who tragically have been financially disowned by their families,” said Mike Shumate, GLBTAA president and IU Foundation board director. “During recent years, we have experienced a significant increase in scholarship applications. We launched this campaign to increase the total number of scholarships and, eventually, award amounts. Ultimately, we hope to create an endowment that will assist deserving students and promote diversity and leadership well into the future.”

Indiana University-Bloomington, for the past three years, has received the highest five-star rating from Campus Pride, and in 2012 was ranked by the same organization as one of the nation’s top 25 GLBT-friendly campuses.

“This community is a guiding force for change in the equal rights movement and I would not be the same person I am today had I not come to IU,” said Matthew Bloom, a sophomore who was awarded a GLBTAA academic scholarship. “The scholarship is a great way for me to help my parents pay for my education.”

University of Wisconsin-Madison also has ranked high as an LGBT-friendly campus.

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