The It Gets Better Project has opened applications for a school-based grant initiative designed to benefit LGBTQ youth in all 50 U.S. states.
The initiative, known as “50 States. 50 Grants. 5,000 Voices,” will offer up to $10,000 to at least one middle or high school in every U.S. state, including U.S. territories, with programming or support services in place to assist LGBTQ+ students.
The grants are made possible by financial support from American Eagle Outfitters, Inc., through donations made through the clothing retailer’s Real Rewards loyalty program and an in-store pin-pad promotion during Pride Month in June. As a Legacy Partner of the It Gets Better Project, AEO has given more than $3 million to the organization, which seeks to prevent LGBTQ youth suicides by showing youth their lives can improve and providing them the needed support to thrive.
Grant applications, available on the It Gets Better Project website, allow students aged 13-18 to apply in partnership with a faculty advisor, educator, or school administrator by preparing a proposal about how they intend for the grant money to be used and how it would benefit LGBTQ members of their specific school community.
Potential projects include: creating a school Gender and Sexualities Alliance, painting a mural highlighting heroes of the LGBTQ+ history movement, constructing a school float for a local Pride parade, or other activities designed to empower LGBTQ+ youth and providing a safe space where their identities can be supported and their personal contributions and achievements are highly valued.
Grants will be prioritized to schools that have a diverse student population, Title I status, a history of documented support for LGBTQ+ students, and that already have a recognized Gender and Sexuality Alliance or similar club geared toward supporting LGBTQ+ individuals. Applications will close in February 2022, with final grant recipients announced in June 2022.
“Connecting LGBTQ+ youth to their community is a number one priority of the It Gets Better Project. In partnership with AEO’s American Eagle and Aerie brands, the “50 States. 50 Grants. 5,000 Voices.” initiative will provide opportunities to enhance existing or introduce new programming to help LGBTQ+ youth find and connect with their community at school,” Brian Wenke, the executive director of the It Gets Better Project, said in a statement. “Our five-year partnership with AEO is the perfect example of how brands and nonprofits can work together to create meaningful change in the world.”
“Through the generosity of our American Eagle and Aerie customers, AEO is honored to support the It Gets Better Project in launching this important grant initiative. Prioritizing LGBTQ+ youth and building more positive, inclusive communities in schools is how we can help create real change,” Jennifer Foyle, the president and executive creative director for American Eagle and Aerie, said in a statement.
“AEO’s continued support of the It Gets Better Project is led by our shared passion for inspiring change and empowering LGBTQ+ youth, as well as fostering a safe space for everyone to be their most authentic selves.”
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