The Pinnacle Foundation website: https://thepinnaclefoundation.org/
1.) Who are The Pinnacle Foundation, and what do they do?
The Pinnacle Foundation’s focus is simple – they are helping LGBTIQ+ young adults to reach their full potential, and overcome their disadvantages. The goal is to help young people position themselves for success, transform society for the better, and enable them to be an inspiration to the generation that follows them.
The Foundation exists to give young students who because of their gender identity, sexual orientation or sexual characteristics have been prevented or hindered from the chance to achieve their full potential.
The Pinnacle Foundation provides financial scholarships to students across Australia. For those wishing to complete high school or are ready to start University or TAFE Pinnacle can help. Irrespective of their goals, they offer the financial support and resources they need to kick-start their career path.
The Foundation recognises that some young LGBTIQ+ students face a tough time coming out to their families, friends and schools, with many finding themselves without the money and support needed to keep up their studies. The scholarships program can help with that and, equally as important, the foundation matches each scholar with a mentor to guide them through their studies. Someone who shares the same sexual identity, location and professional field and knows what it’s like to walk in their shoes.
The Pinnacle Foundation relies solely on donations. What they do cannot be done without the support of many individual and corporate donors and supporters – the Foundation does not receive any federal or state government funding. All the mentors are volunteers who work with our scholars over the course of their scholarship.
2.) What does your role as a mentor involve?
I have been a mentor at Pinnacle Foundation for about 5 years. Primarily, it involves meeting and engaging with the scholar and helping them on the educational journey. Helping them manage study stress, managing work commitments (many don’t and can’t live at home anymore). It also involves helping them transition from the study environment to the work environment at the end of their studies.
We are generally matched via our professional roles combined with our gender identity and/or sexual orientation so we can assist with issues around being LGBTIQ+ in an educational or work environment. It involves monitoring their mental health and ensuring that they are OK. We meet regularly (at least monthly) for coffee and a chat and we communicate more regularly via emails. Our journey doesn’t end when the scholarship ends. The scholar continues to reach out for advice as their transition to the non-school world takes place.
3.) What has been the most rewarding part of your involvement?
There are two aspects of the Pinnacle experience that stand out for me. The first is how rewarding it is to help young people become the best they can. The reward in seeing them embrace and celebrate their sexuality or gender identity. The reward in seeing them succeed in their studies and beyond.
The second amazing experience is that I get to help these quite amazing young people become the next generation of leaders in the LGBTIQ+ community. There is something especially important for me to see them develop as the next LGBTIQ+ leaders. The journey to equality did not end with marriage equality and we need amazing advocates to carry the mantle forward.
4.) How can we best support The Pinnacle Foundation and their cause?
The best way to support Pinnacle is to publicly share its existence. Tell your kids and young people in general who identify as LGBTIQ+ that the scholarships exist – and that they may be eligible for them. Of course, they exist total on the basis of donations and volunteers. Donate if you can. Volunteer if you think you have what it takes to be a LGBTIQ+ mentor.
5.) Who is The Pinnacle Foundation’s scholarship open to, and how can they apply?
The Pinnacle Foundation provides Scholarships for students between the ages of 17-26, who are planning to study full-time education at a public or private secondary school (final year) or public institution of higher education in Australia (including TAFE), for the purpose of gaining an educational or vocational qualification in any profession, trade or the arts.
The aim of the scholarship is to lift youth up. Those that have been disadvantage by family situations or cultural or structural issues relating to their LGBTIQ+ status are who this program is aimed at.
Applicants must be able to demonstrate that because of their gender identity, sexual orientation or sexual characteristics they have been prevented or hindered from achieving their academic aspirations.
Being a mentor for The Pinnacle Foundation has been one of the most rewarding volunteer experiences of my life. I have mentored 4 young queer people over the years and seeing them grow, watching them succeed in study and life is truly an honour.