Saturday, June 9, at Orlando City Hall, as part of an ongoing effort to honor those whose lives were lost in the Pulse nightclub tragedy, The 49 Fund at Central Florida Foundation awarded Seminole State College of Florida student Courtney Ring a scholarship in the amount of $4,900, for her leadership, academic excellence and commitment to serving the community.
The 49 Fund at Central Florida Foundation was created in March 2017 in a partnership between local attorney Barry L. Miller and the LGBT+ Center Orlando. The fund provides scholarships annually to LGBTQ students who meet the requirements. To qualify for the scholarship, students must be self-identified as “out” and a member of the LGBTQ community; attend an accredited two- or four-year institution of higher learning on a full-time basis; earn a 3.0 GPA or higher; and demonstrate a commitment to improving the Central Florida community.
“Central Florida Foundation is honored to host The 49 Fund to ensure this important legacy continues on to support the educational goals of LGBT students in our community,” said Mark Brewer, president and chief executive officer of Central Florida Foundation.
Ring, one of eight recipients of the scholarship, has made many contributions toward promoting LGBTQ inclusion and impartiality, including re-establishing Hagerty High School’s Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) program; and serving as editor and social media manager for the Central Florida GSA Network, a student-led organization that focuses on providing structure for Florida GSAs by developing student leadership, promoting community service, and educating others about the LGBTQ community. The 18-year-old student-leader will start taking classes toward her Associate in Arts (A.A.) degree at Seminole State in the fall.
“I’m really honored to have received this scholarship,” said Ring. “In my years of being ‘out’ and proud, I’ve experienced the stunningly diverse and colorful LGBT+ community. … I’m so happy to be so involved with the community, and I know that this scholarship will help me get through school, which will allow me to continue advocating on behalf of LGBT+ people everywhere, as well as address other issues like homelessness.”
Upon completion of her A.A. degree, Ring plans to transfer to UCF to pursue a bachelor’s degree in nonprofit management.
According to Janet Balanoff, Seminole State’s associate vice president for equity and diversity/Title IX coordinator, The 49 Fund Scholarship coincides with the College’s commitment to inclusion.
“Members of the LGBTQ community are welcomed to Seminole State with a network of supportive services and a culture that meets their needs for respect, leadership development and academic success,” says Balanoff. “The scholarship from The 49 Fund at Central Florida Foundation recognizes the contributions of LGBTQ students that strengthen this region and enrich its diversity. … With the College’s clubs, activities and policies friendly to LGBTQ students, Courtney and many other students can achieve their academic dreams and apply their talents to the improvement of the Central Florida community.”
Preference for scholarships was given to survivors of the Pulse shooting or immediate family members of both victims and survivors of the tragedy.
About Seminole State College of Florida: Seminole State College of Florida, established in 1965, serves nearly 30,000 students across six sites in Central Florida. A comprehensive college, Seminole State has awarded more than 100,000 credentials, from bachelor's degrees to high school diplomas, and offers more than 200 degrees, certificates and programs designed for success. For more about the college, visit seminolestate.edu, like us on Facebook at facebook.com/seminolestate and follow us on Twitter: @seminolestate.
About Central Florida Foundation
Central Florida Foundation is the place for people who want to invest in their community. The Foundation serves as the region’s community foundation and is home to more than 400 charitable funds. The Foundation manages and invests funds, offers personalized service and expert giving advice, connects caring people, businesses, governments and organizations to local initiatives that build and inspire community, and empowers them to make informed decisions that make a difference now and in the future. Central Florida Foundation works with individuals, families, businesses, professional advisors and nonprofits. Learn more at cffound.org.
About The LGBT+ Center Orlando
Serving Central Florida for over 38 years, making it one of the oldest centers in the nation, providing community services that incorporates the following philosophies; serve as a sanctuary for all LGBT+ people, provide programs and services that empower, educate and entertain and to strengthen the intellectual, physical, social, emotional and spiritual well-being of the community. The Center seeks to build strong strategic alliances for increasing influence, improving communication and strengthening relationships between the LGBT+ community and the broader public. For more information visit www.thecenterorlando.org
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