June is Pride Month, and as we gear up to celebrate the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, we’re excited to share stories from one of our new community partners: LOUD Foundation. LOUD has been doing important work in the 2SLGBTQIA+ community in BC for nearly 20 years, and we’re proud to support their work and amplify their story.
Living Out LOUD
With a long history going back to the mid-1980s, LOUD’s mission to invest in future 2SLGBTQIA+ community leaders and changemakers has been anchored in its four pillars: Leadership, Opportunity, Unity and Diversity.
Despite the positive shift in Canadian attitudes and legislated protection of 2SLGBTQIA+ rights, challenges for 2SLGBTQIA+ youth are still vast and include physical and mental health, and systemic barriers in accessing employment, housing, healthcare, and support services. By providing scholarships and supporting the development of students, LOUD increases awareness of diversity and helps to reduce some of the challenges that 2SLGBTQIA+ youth experience.
Increasing Opportunities for 2SLGBTQIA+ Youth
LOUD Foundation scholarships empower students to thrive academically, especially those in rural communities with a low 2SLGBTQIA+ presence and fewer opportunities.
Over the past 15 years, LOUD has awarded 125 scholarships, totaling over $265,000, to 2SLGBTQIA+ students in British Columbia and across Canada. And 2022 will be a banner year as LOUD adds additional scholarships to address the community's growing post-pandemic needs for inclusive opportunities. While LOUD’s scholarship program criteria have evolved over time to be more inclusive – moving away from a focus on grades to include community involvement and impact, the economic impacts of the pandemic have increased the need for support.
“We plan to continue to increase our investment in our scholarship recipients, stretching beyond a one-time financial investment,” says Charlene Prevatt, LOUD Foundation Scholarship Committee and Board Member. “We plan to amplify more diverse voices and deepen the connection between our scholarship recipients and our partnering organizations, donors, and elders through mentorship and resource sharing. Ultimately, we want our recipients to be successful in their fields and lift up others in the community so that everyone can have a seat at the table."
At BCAA, we believe in the power of community. We want to enable BC communities to feel safe, protected and connected and want to actively celebrate diversity, equity and inclusion. This year, BCAA is proud to support two youth scholarships as we build our community partnership for years to come.
Scholarship Success Stories
LOUD's youngest scholarship recipient, actor Aiden Cumming-Teicher (then 14 years old), is also the creator of the Our Voices Film Festival, which shares youth experiences and perspectives on film. Aiden used the LOUD scholarship to pursue a communications degree at SFU, with a minor in social data analysis and a particular interest in grassroots activism and community-driven causes. Aiden now works as the Social Media Coordinator at the Burns Bog Conservation Society, continuing to pursue her passions.
“We have seen some incredible individuals receive the LOUD scholarships,” says Rhiannon Foster, Board Chair for LOUD and the GLBA of BC. “When I started with LOUD in 2019, we had a scholarship go to Danny Ramadan, an award-winning novelist, public speaker, and 2SLGBTQIA+ refugee activist born in Damascus, Syria, who now calls Vancouver home. Since receiving the LOUD scholarship, he has gone on to write an award-winning children's book, Salma, the Syrian Chef, and his latest work, The Foghorn Echoes, is set to be released in August 2022."