Gifts made during the Redbirds Rising campaign support Illinois State students in a variety of ways. From creating scholarships, to enhancing innovative facilities on campus, to providing students with hands-on learning opportunities, private gifts help Redbirds shine. One fund that has grown during Redbirds Rising is the LGBTQ+ Student Support Fund, which was created in 2009 to provide emergency financial assistance to students who have lost the financial support of their family due to their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
Jasmine Dandridge, a junior social work major, benefitted from the LGBTQ+ Student Support Fund when she needed it the most.
“I have very little family backing my journey. I don’t have the luxury of being able to call mom and dad or aunt and uncle when tuition is due. The support fund was a real saving grace for me,” said Dandridge.
“The fund helped me to minimize my costs for the school year which made it possible for me to continue my education,” she said. “Without it, I would have had to leave college to join the workforce, just for means of survival.”
In the past five years, the LGBTQ+ Student Support Fund has provided more than $50,000 in assistance to students identifying as LGBTQ+. Associate Dean of Students Jill Benson says the fund also helps connect students to additional resources. “Each time we award a scholarship from the LGBTQ+ Student Support Fund, we reach out to the recipient to see what other needs we can help meet,” said Benson. “For example, we may refer them to the School Street Food Pantry or connect them with PATH (Providing Access to Help). Sometimes we just listen to their stories and offer encouragement.”
Dandridge is grateful for the help she’s received. “Having a resource like this one gives me hope in knowing there’s someone out there willing to support and love a young soul with a dream. I can’t say thank you enough.”
To give the gift of hope to students in need of encouragement and financial support, visit Giving.IllinoisState.edu/donate.