Growing up gay in Madison, WI, was a challenge for Emily Ptak-Pressman, despite a loving, supportive home life with two lesbian moms.
"Hearing messages at school, on TV and from politicians that there is something wrong with me and the people I love was hard on my self-esteem," she said. “I faced a lot of marginalization and discrimination.”
She knew that the pathway to a career probably lay through university doors, but the idea of starting over with a whole new group of strangers seemed daunting—until she heard about the Los Angeles-based Point Foundation and applied to become a Point Scholar.
Specially designed to serve the needs of college-age members of the LGBTQ community, the Point Foundation was created in 2001 by Bruce Lindstrom, Carl Strickland and John Pence, according to Jorge Valencia, executive director and CEO of PF. “They were responding to their own personal experience with how difficult it can be coming out, often losing the support of families and communities, and then having the burden of trying to do well in school and work in order to seek a higher degree.”
More than 2,100 applicants compete for the 20 or so new PF scholarships each year, Valencia said. The amount of Point’s annual scholarship support, which includes direct financial and programmatic assistance, averages $25,000 per scholar each year. If donations and sponsorships increase, the foundation hopes to increase the number of students served. In its decade of existence the Point Foundation has granted 184 scholarships, most of them covering multiple years in college. This fall, the foundation will be helping a total of 80 students at various colleges and universities.
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