GRTF Academic Scholarship

What is the GRTF Academic Scholarship?

This scholarship fund is to help transgender students with education-related expenses while pursuing a degree or certificate from an accredited college, university, or technical / vocational program with a satellite campus or permanent presence in Kent County, MI.

This award is open to people of any age who identify as transgender (including non-binary, two-spirit, third gender, transsexual, and/or any other non-cis gender identity) and who demonstrate financial need. No GPA requirement. Students of color and students with disabilities encouraged to apply.

Student privacy is respected. We will not share any identifying information without the applicant's written permission. Upon request, we can provide applicants with a generic Financial Release form if there is any concern that the applicant's school will react poorly to a trans status disclosure.

We are now accepting applications for the 2019-2020 academic year. This cycle, we will be awarding $11,000, with individual awards up to $2,500.

Applications are due by 5:00pm on June 7th, 2019.

How to Apply

Full instructions are included in the Application document below.

Download Application
Download Financial Release

Past Scholarship Recipients

2018

Eric Brink

$2500

Eric Brink he/him pronouns
GVSU, Spanish/Chinese/Criminal Justice

"This scholarship will alleviate the stress I am experiencing from funding my education, medical and legal transition, and my everyday life. Even between three jobs, it is hard to make progress when money is a barrier to living authentically. Despite this, I have enjoyed actively participating in many on-campus outreach, advocacy, and community education programs.

I hope to use my education and outreach experience to forward change in many legal processes, particularly for non-native English speakers, but not excluding people of color, queer people, and every other group that is often beaten by the system. I want to show the world that advocacy can occur at any level in many different ways, and that every step toward change is progress."

Beau VanSolkema

$2500

Beau VanSolkema he/him pronouns
GVSU, Social Work

"I'm a first-generation student who started college at age 28. I was a high school drop-out. I still struggle with poverty, no family support, and multiple disabilities, including Learning Disabilities. Despite all that, I have managed to further myself with hard work, integrity, and the help of institutions like GRCC and GVSU. I want to advocate for others, which is why being a Social Worker is important to me, along with being a visible trans man.

My goal is to be a therapist with an emphasis on helping LGBT people build better relationships, cope with trauma, and understand their gender/bodies. After completion of a master’s degree, my long-term goal is to start a non-profit for elderly LGBT."

Olives Nguyen

$1500

Olives Nguyen they/them pronouns
MSU College of Human Medicine, MD

"I'm a non-traditional student on track to becoming an M.D. Being Queer and non-binary hasn't been easy. It's been exhausting, anxiety-producing, and isolating. At the same time, owning my truth has also given me the strength to pursue and push through medical school. Although medical school still has been a challenge (e.g. encountering problematic literature that pathologizes LGBT individuals, not having common language to acknowledge non-binary identities or practices that improve clinical trans health outcomes), being present in these spaces to educate the college administration and my peers is necessary. I continue to push because, for me, medical school is a responsibility. We cannot tolerate being unintentionally or intentionally pushed out of spaces we belong.

With a background in community-organizing, I know that structural changes need to happen for sustainable, positive outcomes. A few colleagues and I have restarted the LGBTQIA Med Group on campus, and am working with the college administration to enhance our education."

Jason Skalandis

$1500

Jason Skalandis he/him pronouns
GRCC, History

"When first attending college over 20 years ago, I was overwhelmed, intimidated, and unprepared. I dropped out before completing. Six years ago, I was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. That explained a lot and I felt that I didn’t have to try as hard to conform. I began volunteering and started to learn about the world around me. When I realized I was transgender, I found that piece of myself that had been missing, that was holding me back from succeeding.

Now a non-traditional student, I'm heading back to college part-time. I'm living on disability, and I still actively volunteer. Visibility is important to me, and ultimately I want to teach high school students history that they can connect to, highlighting queer people, people of color, and women."

Aaminah Shakur

$1000

Aaminah Shakur they/them pronouns
Kendall College, Art History

"I identify as Two-Spirit because it is the proper term within my Indigenous tribes to describe genderqueer identities.

I'm a non-traditional student (aged 44), mixed race, disabled, and self-supporting. I have benefited from the support of the Grand Rapids Trans Foundation to make it possible for me to remain in school. This is my final year, and I will graduate in May 2019 with a major in Art History and minor in Museum Studies. I am applying to grad schools with a focus on issues of ethics and accessibility for marginalized communities in art spaces. Blending art history and critique of culture, I hope to bring to light the work of more queer, disabled artists of color."

2017

Hal Swain

$2500

Hal Swain he/him pronouns
Aquinas College, Business Administration

"I stand confidently as a transgender man, feeling more like myself than I have ever felt in my 21 years of life. However, being in college has created some new anxieties, fears, and predicaments. Although there are some amazing people at Aquinas who support me, institutional support like housing, professors, and paperwork have been a challenge. The other challenge being that I love playing lacrosse but can not be on the team while starting my transition.

I have a dream to design and sell my own clothing line targeted for the queer community, a career that will not only support my family but also my community."

Beau VanSolkema

$2500

Beau VanSolkema he/him pronouns
GVSU, Social Work

"I'm a first-generation student who started college at age 28. I struggle with depression, learning disabilities, and health issues, but I don't let these things hold me back. Education has empowered me and offered me the tools necessary to become a recognized leader both on- and off-campus.

I plan to initially work for the Kent County prison system, but my ultimate goal is to be a transgender LGBT therapist with a focus on elderly transgender folks and sexual assault victims."

Finn Marcks

$1500

Finn Marcks they/them, he/him pronouns
GVSU, Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies

"My identity has led me to meet some of the most amazing and spectacular human beings on earth, and I have flourished within the trans community both at GVSU and in GR. I'm a leader and activist on campus. I'm neurodivergent, and with no financial assistance or support from my family, I struggle a lot in school because of my identity, anxiety, depression, and stress... and I want nothing more than to help students in similar situations.

My goal is to become a director in a university's LGBT resource center, so I can help struggling LGBT students be as successful as possible."

Aaminah Shakur

$500

Aaminah Shakur they/them pronouns
Kendall College, Art History

"I identify as Two-Spirit because it is the proper term within my Indigenous tribes to describe genderqueer identities.

I'm a non-traditional student-- age 43-- mixed race, disabled, self-supporting, and returning to school for the first time due to poverty. Blending art history and critique of culture, I hope to bring to light the work of more queer, disabled artists of color."

2016

Aaminah Shakur

$2500

Aaminah Shakur they/them pronouns
Kendall College, Art History

"I identify as Two-Spirit because it is the proper term within my Indigenous tribes to describe genderqueer identities.

I'm a non-traditional student-- age 41-- mixed race, disabled, self-supporting, and returning to school for the first time due to poverty. Blending art history and critique of culture, I hope to bring to light the work of more queer, disabled artists of color."