In an effort to provide financial aide to college students struggling with a lack of familial support, The University of Missouri Kansas City offers a unique need-based scholarship—the PRIDE Empowerment Scholarship—for gay and straight students who have been “experiencing financial difficulty due to loss of support from family.”
Eight students have been awarded the scholarship since it was announced four years ago, and this year, Caleb-Michael Files, 21, is one of the lucky few to receive it. “Gay students, especially, have issues with coming out and support,” he said. “My parents aren’t in the picture. My guardians aren’t in the picture.”
Files also says without the help of the scholarship, he may have been forced to sacrifice his education to working 60-80 hour weeks in order to support himself.
Every student eligible for the new scholarship is assessed individually, and 2013 unsurprisingly brought in the highest number of applicants in the program’s four-year lifespan. “This year was the greatest need we’ve seen,” said Assistant Vice Chancellor for Diversity Kristi Ryujin. “We have a long way to go still.”
We can only imagine the thousands of gay youth in America desperately in need of a scholarship program like this. How long will it take before other universities start following suit?