Point Foundation’s Cornerstone Event Honors LGBT Scholars
The Point Foundation’s Boston Cornerstone Event took place last Thursday, Oct. 18. The stylish and inspiring fundraiser, held at the Mandarin Orient Hotel on Boylston, honored new Point Scholars and alumni and raised funds for the scholarship program. Proceeds from the $100 tickets for the event as well as donations accepted at the shindig went toward the Point Foundation’s mission of empowering LGBTQ students to achieve their full academic and leadership potential.
"Events like this are designed to help raise the level of awareness and the size of the Point family," said John Wolfarth, member of the Point Foundation’s Board of Regents. "Because the more economic opportunity we have, the more scholars and young people we can support."
The Point Foundation is a national nonprofit organization that provides scholarships and support for LGBTQ students who demonstrate academic excellence as well as leadership potential. Its scholarship is an extremely competitive appointment, with only 29 out of this year’s 1,977 applicants making it through the numerous rounds of interviews and becoming Point Scholars. That’s a little more than a one percent acceptance rate -- much smaller than most university selection standards.
The scholars receive, on average, about $25,000 toward their education. Along with the monetary investment, the Point Foundation also provides its scholars with mentoring and internship opportunities and each is responsible for heading one community service project for each year that they receive financial support.
The hope here, and the importance behind the Point Foundation’s mission, is that the success of these students will benefit the larger LGBTQ community.
"The Point Scholars are scholars, but it’s so much more than a scholarship," said Wolfarth. "It’s really an investment in a young person to help them change the world."
Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse, a Point Scholar alum, is not only the youngest mayor to serve in Massachusetts, but is also the first openly gay mayor of Holyoke. During his years as a Point Scholar, Morse was matched for mentorship with David Cicilline, then-mayor of Providence, Rhode Island, and the first openly gay mayor to serve a U.S. capital.
"Point isn’t just about giving financial resources, but it’s also about the network that it enters us into and about the critical component of mentorship," said Morse, who credits the Point Foundation with playing a major role in his development as a student and as a public official.
The truth, said Morse, is that Point Scholars have massive potential, are highly motivated and go on to do great things.
Katie Kendall, one of the new Point Scholars, decided to go to law school after spending a year with Teach for America and seeing her LGBTQ students subjected to injustices from fellow students as well as administrators.
"It said to me that something was wrong and I needed to do something about it," said Kendall.
Kendall’s Point Scholarship certainly helps financially with her undertaking at Boston College Law School. But she, along with many of the other Point Scholars present, said that it is much more than just a scholarship.
A number of Point Scholars at the Cornerstone Event shared the sentiment that they had gained with Point not just a monetary scholarship, not just an internship opportunity, but a family, a system of support both professional and personal.
Noah Lupica, 2012 Point Scholar and freshman at Brown University, recalled how "Vince" called him up during his second week of college just to check in and see how he was doing.
Point Foundation Scholar Relations and Selections Program Director Vincent Garcia has a full plate, between the 29 new scholars and overseeing the selection process for the next tidal wave of applicants. But he is never too busy to engage with the most important part of this foundation; the students.
"Vince is super accessible and you never have to go through red tape to get to people in the organization," said Erika Turner, a 2011 Point Scholar. "People are always willing to help and are always willing to give you direction. Vince stayed on the phone with me once for an hour giving me advice and tips for an interview."
"The Point community is really phenomenal. It’s like a huge family," said Turner.
Through fundraising events like this one and through the Point Foundation’s generous corporate and individual donors, this "family" continues to thrive and grow, to promote academic excellence and social justice and to cultivate and develop the next wave of leaders for the LGBTQ community.
Many of these scholars are just starting out, but it will be quite exciting to watch and see what the future has in store for them and, perhaps more importantly, what they have in store for the future.
To make a donation or to learn more about the Point Foundation visit www.pointfoundation.org