The Columbia Foundation

The Columbia Foundation recognizes the value of education and diversity in today’s world.  Higher education is the key to many options in the future, opening doors to new thinking and new contacts.

The Pride Empowerment High School Scholarship is a one-time scholarship that will provide up to $2,500 to a Mid-Missouri High School senior student, to be applied towards college or university tuition.

Endowed by Columbia Safety, a world-wide safety equipment company, the Pride Empowerment High School Scholarship is targeted at Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer & Questioning, Intersex and Ally (LGBTQIA) students.  We believe that your perspectives, experiences and values benefit and enrich the educational experiences of all students, faculty and staff.

Like other groups, the LGBTQIA community has the power to influence social, political and economic issues in the community, legislature, business and civic organizations and in our institutions of higher education. This scholarship provides support for LGBTQIA students who are experiencing financial difficulty. The Pride Empowerment High School Scholarship Program believes that LGBTQIA students should be supported in harnessing and commanding their own extraordinary power.

In support of this goal, the Pride Empowerment High School Scholarship will be offered to Mid-Missouri High School senior students who have a demonstrated financial need. Whenever possible, scholars will be selected from applicants who identify as LGBTQIA. In the event that no such students qualify for the award on that basis, the scholarship may be awarded to any other student or students whose background or life experiences demonstrate an affiliation with or an understanding of LGBTQIA issues, and who will contribute to an educationally diverse environment at the university level.

To apply, students must (1) complete the Scholarship application; (2) submit a short personal statement on why they believe they qualify for this scholarship; (3) attach a copy of your Student Aid Report (SAR) or FAFSA application; and (4) provide two recommendation contacts.

Students can reapply for funding annually, with selection decisions based on current financial need.

Please check eligibility criteria below.


Pride Empowerment High School Scholarship Eligibility Criteria

  • Who qualifies for a scholarship?

    Very strong academic performance is one characteristic that we seek in all applicants and subsequent scholars. Additionally, proven leadership skills and the desire to make a difference in the world are highly valued. Each person who applies for a scholarship is evaluated on the totality of their situation. Academic achievement, personal merit, leadership, involvement in the LGBTQ community, professional experiences, financial need, marginalization, personal and future goals are all taken into consideration. Applicants must be a resident of Mid-Missouri and have at least a 2.75 GPA.
  • Are community college applicants eligible to apply?

    Yes. The scholarship applies to community college level.
  • If I do not know yet where I will be attending college, can I still apply to a scholarship?

    Yes. We understand that many applicants will not have finalized plans for their education at the time that they apply. You neither have to be enrolled nor accepted to a particular program/university to apply to be a scholar.
  • I would like to apply for a scholarship to study in the fall of 2015. May I submit an application now?

    No, scholarship awards for fall of 2015 are not available. Only applicants who are either starting their education in the spring or fall of 2014 are eligible to apply.
  • I have taken the past several years off to begin my career, but now I am looking to go back to school for a degree. Is there an age limit to apply to become a scholar?

    No, there is no age limit to be eligible to become a scholar. You may apply at any time during either your education or career as long as you plan to be enrolled full-time by the fall of 2014.
  • If I am planning to complete my degree through an online program, am I eligible to apply for a scholarship?

    No, we do not provide support for students who pursue an education or a special program solely online. We believe it is important for scholars to be a part of an academic community and interact face-to-face with other students and faculty on a regular basis while earning a degree.
  • Do I need to identify within the LGBTQIA community to apply?

    Yes, individuals who receive a scholarship award and support are expected to be “out” as a person or someone who identifies within the LGBTQIA spectrum—Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer & Questioning, Intersex, and Ally.
  • Will I be expected to reveal this identification to the public?

    Yes, we will post a picture and short biography of each scholarship award recipient on The Columbia Foundation’s website. Additionally, scholars are expected to attend and occasionally speak about their own experience of being an LGBTQIA identified individual in public settings such as fundraisers and conferences.
  • If my career goals are not exclusively focused on the LGBTQIA community, may I still apply?

    Absolutely! We select scholars whom we believe have made a contribution to the LGBTQIA community, and who will continue to do so in the future. Some scholars will choose a career that focuses on the LGBTQIA community and others will use their skills and influence in other ways, while not working full-time on LGBTQIA issues. Talent and a drive to contribute to society are key characteristics of a scholar. We welcome accomplished scholars in all fields.
  • I am not sure that I qualify (or identify) as either financially disadvantaged or marginalized, but I am confident that I have many of the other strengths (history of leadership, dedication to a field, etc.). Should I still apply?

    Yes, you may qualify and should apply. Our selection committee weighs all facets of each person's application. Academic achievement, personal merit, leadership, professional experiences, financial needs, marginalization, future and personal goals are all considered. We support scholars who have a variety of needs and who demonstrate a record of accomplishment and high achievement.
  • Are scholarship awards restricted to any specific geographic regions?

    You must be living in Mid-Missouri while attending High School in order to qualify for a scholarship. However, the scholarship award may be used at any accredited college or university within the United States of America.
  • Do you provide scholarships to citizens of foreign countries?

    Our application process is open to all college applicants, regardless of citizenship. However, the organization's scope of support is limited to college and university educational pursuits at accredited institutions that are located within the borders of the United States of America.
  • Do you provide scholarships to undocumented students?

    Yes, as stated above regarding international students, our application process is open to all college applicants, regardless of citizenship. Undocumented students are eligible and will be reviewed as international students.
  • If I apply and am not selected as a scholar, may I reapply?

    Yes, applicants may reapply the following year, provided that you are still enrolled as a senior at a Mid-Missouri High School. We do not keep copies of semifinalist/finalist materials from previous application cycles; thus materials submitted in the past must be resubmitted for consideration.
  • When I reapply, may I submit my old application?

    Currently, this option is not available, so it is important that each returning applicant submit the most current and competitive information possible.