There is no doubt that the rising cost for an education in the recent years has put a heavier burden on the average college student. According to the College Board Source by David Evans of USA Today the cost of tuition for a four-year public college has increased to nearly $13,000 a year. Within the last five years the cost of tuition has jumped 35%. Education has never been more expensive to achieve, nor has it been more essential. The trend in the workforce is such that even an entry-level position will require a four-year degree.
Many students are relying on various scholarship funds to help them with the cost of education. Locally at California State University, Fresno, there are about 1,000 different scholarships for students to apply for ranging from $100 to $5,000. One of the scholarships, which plays a significant role in our GLBT community, is the Bulldog Pride Scholarship Fund. The Bulldog Pride Scholarship Fund awards students with financial relief and recognition for an attending student which demonstrates pride within the community. The fund exists today because of over 200 donors contributing to the fund with generous donations, helping to raise over $25,000. The fund was created by Peter Robertson in March of 2006 with the hopes that it will continue to aide students on a positive path in the community forever. One unique student who has recently been praised by the community for his demonstration of pride is Jared Lindo. He was awarded a check for $1,000 at the Top Dog Alumni Awards Gala last October. Peter Robertson hand picked Jared for his amazing display of community pride and kind spirit.
Working on campus Peter Robertson immediately noticed a need to help students with the cost of education. Having an honorable track record in our community for demonstrating pride as a founding member of the United Student Pride and co-founder of Fresno Reel Pride, Peter wanted to not only encourage today's youth to take positive steps but also to reward them.
"The fund really started back in March of 2005" Peter explained, "My partner and I raised $5,000 for the endowment."
The funds are awarded through the interest earned on the balance. This secures a reward for qualifying students years into the future.
"If we gave out $25,000 in scholarship awards to students today, then we'd have to start all over with fundraisers for students next year…" Peter explained.
The Bulldog Pride Fund receives no help from the government, its sustained solely on donations from the community. 100% of all donations are deposited into the account to assure maximize growth. Peter encourages community members to contribute what little each individual can do to a cause that for years down the road will benefit the community greatly.
Applicants receive $1,000 grants based on their demonstration of pride in the community and other academic requirements. Some members of the community are under the misconception that the scholarship is specifically for GLBT students and are often discouraged to donate when they learn that its not. It would be illegal for the BPF to grant money exclusively to gay students and discriminate against others. The fund does, however, encourage positive representation of the GLBT community by rewarding students who serve as great role models. A heterosexual student can be awarded a grant if he or she qualifies and by doing so he or she can influence other heterosexual students to take pride and interest in GLBT issues.
Jared Lindo is a great example of what the BPF stands for. As an engineering student at Fresno State Jared plans on pursuing his masters and continuing his involvement locally in Fresno. He'd like to remain a Fresno resident and give back to the community as much as he can. He's demonstrated his pride through participating in various organization events around the Fresno area.
"I try to give back as much as I can." Jared told me when I asked about his involvement. "I've always been active in helping out, even since back in high school when I did coats for homeless."
Jared takes pride in his generous track record of helping out. In high school he served as senior class treasurer and since then into adulthood Jared has participated in the Aids Walk, can soup drives, the Kiss In Demonstration at Fresno State and also woman's rights issues to name a few. Perhaps the most influential act of kindness on Jared's part would be his recent donation to the BPF. Upon receiving his check Jared immediately donated 5% of this grant back into the fund. A little donation from individuals who recognize the importance of social responsibility can make a big difference in a students life for years to come. The 5% that Jared donated to the fund may not change the world today, but it will grow with the BPF for many years to come.
"Its helped me focus on my academics a lot more, not having to worry about paying for expenses as much anymore." Jared explained when I asked him how the BPF has changed his experience as a student. Peter hopes to have the same impact on many more students years to come. His goal for next year is to give out a grant to two qualifying students.
Those who would like to donate what they can to the Bulldog Pride Fund can simply contact Peter directly at his office at 559 278-4636 or by visiting http://www.bulldogpride.org/gallery/w_donation_form_rev3.pdf and downloading the donation form. The BPF is a non-profit 501[c]3 organization recognized by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and all donations are tax deductible.
Pictured: Jared Lindo and Peter Robertson after lunch in front of fountain at Fresno State
Peter and Jared would like to extend their sincere gratitude to those who have supported the Bulldog Pride Fund and shared their vision. Special thanks to the Fresno State Alumni Association, everyone at Fresno PFLAG, the CCA for their recent $200 donation, Netricks, INC. web-design and to Bradley Fitzhenry for providing logos.
For additional information and updates on the fund and related fun facts you can also visit http://www.bulldogpride.org.