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$11,000 Awarded to Local Trans Students

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Grand Rapids Trans Foundation awards $11k in scholarships to six local students.
From left to right. Line 1: Alizae, Liam, Khairun. Line 2: Birdie, Ariana, & Kendra.

From left to right. Line 1: Alizae, Liam, Khairun. Line 2: Birdie, Ariana, & Kendra. /Used with written permission.

Grand Rapids Trans Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, currently focusing on providing scholarships to individuals who are experiencing financial barriers to their continued education.  They founded in December 2015.


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For the 2019-2020 cycle, Grand Rapids Trans Foundation (GRTF) is thrilled to award a total of $11,000 to six local college students. In the past four years since its inception, the Foundation has awarded over $30,000 in scholarships to local students. 

GRTF's Academic Scholarship program invests in trans & gender non-conforming individuals by removing financial barriers to education. All applicants must self-identify on the transgender spectrum, demonstrate financial need, and be enrolled in a Kent County post-secondary school.  

The need for such a program is unmistakable. In the U.S., transgender people experience twice the rate of unemployment as the general public, and are four times as likely to have an annual household income of under $10,000.  Additionally, this group remains at high risk for other hardships including rejection, homelessness, lack of healthcare, discrimination, and violence. Not surprisingly, statistics show that obtaining a degree or certificate can positively affect the financial situations of transgender people.

GRTF engages with the Grand Rapids community in efforts to foster greater access to education, resources, and financial stability. If you want to help us bolster trans lives, please consider donating here or emailing <[email protected]> to ask about how to sponsor GRTF.


Read more about this year's six chosen applicants below!

Photo of Alizae Holliman

Alizae Hollimanthey/them pronouns

GRCC, Philosophy/Writing 
AWARDED: $2500
"I aim to become a scholar in Buddhist Philosophy, and eventually a university professor of the subject. As an Afro-Latinx, I am already breaking the archetype of the Western Buddhist scholar, who is more often than not a white cis man. Even within Buddhist philosophy gender roles can be limiting for the spiritual expression of women and gender non-conforming people. Many Buddhist lineages today still prevent women and those of the LGBT community from becoming monastics.
A scholarship will immensely help my career path. I am currently working full time as well as attending to my studies. This scholarship will allow me to attend more classes, as I am currently paying my way through school. I view any financial assistance or scholarship not as a gift to myself or for my education, but rather as a gift to those I will be able to help in the future."
Photo of Liam Jones
Liam Jones, he/him, they/them pronouns
Douglas J. Aveda Institute, Cosmetology and Esthiology
AWARDED: $2500
"Education is often a major gateway in life for community organization as well as financial stability. Having lost my familial support network, tenuous as it was, made this even harder. I love my community and I am adamant in my involvement and uplifting of it. Therefore it was necessary to find an educational pathway that would allow me to achieve that financial stability and provide a support to my community, while also being friendly to my learning disability.
My goal is to create a non-gendered beauty salon that caters to the needs of the queer and gender-nonconforming community. My first step in completing this goal is to finish my beauty school education and receive my beautician licensing. The scholarship will help me with this by affording my education."
Photo of Khairun Hasan
Khairun Hasan, they/them pronouns
GVSU, Biochemistry and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies 
AWARDED: $2500
"Growing up as a queer Muslim in the middle of West Michigan has always been a struggle to say the least. The environment around West Michigan has never been the best when existing as a trans and queer person of color, and there have been plenty of instances of bigotry, harassment, and threats of violence that I have experienced throughout my lifetime in Grand Rapids. I wish to go on after my bachelors and continue into grad school, with an eventual goal of working either as a biochemical researcher or in non-profit."
Photo of Birdie Duka
Birdie Duka, she/her pronouns
GVSU, Sociology 
AWARDED: $1500
"Part of [fighting injustice] is arming myself with the tools to dismantle systems of oppression. In order to do that I need to go to school. It may be silly to some but, I am not going to school to land a snazzy degree so that I can have a killer job that I make a ton of money from. My primary goal for going to school is to educate myself, foremostly for the goal of becoming a more educated person."
Photo of Ariana Moore
Ariana Moore, she/her pronouns
GRCC, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
AWARDED: $1000
"I came from Costa Rica; I had to move because many people in Costa Rica were very close-minded about my transition. I am grateful to have it easier here transitioning here in the states. I do not want my transition to be a problem in my life because I am very proud trans woman, that wants to show that being transgender is not a bad thing, although it comes with difficulties. I am very inspired by many trans women, and I want to inspire many young trans people. I take care of my grandmother so I cannot work full-time on top of going to school full-time. This scholarship is going to help me succeed and I will be able to focus on my studies."
Photo of Kendra Garcia
Kendra Garcia, they/them pronouns
GVSU, Spanish and History
AWARDED: $1000
"Since deciding to pursue graduate school, I have become more involved on campus and dedicated myself to promoting inclusion across the university. I founded and am president of Women in Humanities, a group dedicated to support and create an inclusive space for women to network and find a community. I also am a Cook Leadership Academy fellow as well as President of the history honor society, Phi Alpha Theta, and the History Club. These activities in combination with my work as an undergraduate research assistant two projects funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities will prepare me for graduate school.
Before I arrived at Grand Valley, I never saw myself reflected in history nor could I imagine myself as a leader. Participation in the McNair Scholars Program has helped me see myself as a professor. I want to mentor students, as I have been encouraged by my professor to pursue my dream of obtaining a Ph.D. As a professor, I will mentor students like myself who have experienced religious trauma because of their sexual identity."
GRTF will begin collecting applications for the next scholarship cycle (2020-2021 academic year) on January 1, 2020.

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