The It Gets Better Project is honored to announced the 2023 recipients of our 50 States. 50 Grants. 5000 Voices program, an initiative to fund projects that support and uplift LGBTQ+ identity in schools across the U.S. and Canada. The effort, which is now in its second year and has expanded to include Canada, will provide grants of up to $10,000 to 71 U.S. and Canada public or charter schools, for a total of $645,000 in grants.
This year’s grant recipients cover a wide spectrum of projects based on the specific needs and priorities of each individual school. Winning projects include plans to build a Pride Garden at a school with a majority LGBTQ+ student body in Birmingham, Alabama; reviving the gender-sexuality alliance (GSA) at a school in Richardson, Texas; and creating a Queer Student Union to host events about queer history and Pride at a school in Columbus, Ohio.
“Amid ongoing efforts to silence or stigmatize discussion about LGBTQ+ identity in the classroom, it’s more important than ever to ensure that LGBTQ+ students feel that they are welcomed, accepted and able to be their full selves at school,” said Brian Wenke, Executive Director of the It Gets Better Project. “Through the 50 States, 50 Grants, 5000 Voices program, we are giving students, teachers and administrators the resources they have determined they need to help make their schools more LGBTQ+ inclusive and supportive. We’re so excited to watch these projects flourish and see the ways that schools and entire communities will benefit from these efforts to celebrate and empower their LGBTQ+ students.”
50 States, 50 Grants, 5000 Voices has been developed with generous support from American Eagle, Aerie and their customers. Read all about this year’s grant recipients below.
Alabama – Birmingham
School Name: Magic City Acceptance Academy – This is a previous grantee with a proposal to create a Pride Garden at a school with over 50% LGBTQ+ students. This project will involve community partners.
Alabama – Selma
School Name: Selma High School – This project will fund a book club focusing on LGBTQ+ literature. The proposal includes guest speakers and will culminate in a field trip to a queer heritage site.
Arizona – Phoenix
This project is a district-wide plan to train staff on LGBTQ+ issues, including Suicide Awareness Month. The project will include a mural as well as a partnership with the non-profits GLSEN and One*n*Ten.
Arkansas – Little Rock
This project seeks to create an LGBTQ+ leadership group that will engage with the community throughout Arkansas and collaborate with other schools.
Arkansas – Springdale
This project will support bolstering the school choir with an LGBTQ+ choral library.
California – Hayward
School Name: Impact Academy of Arts and Technology
This project will work with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to host a back-to-school shopping day for trans and nonbinary students, create a gender-affirming wardrobe, and host a LGBTQ+ community day.
California – Baldwin Park
School Name: Baldwin Park High School
This is a current, exemplary grantee. This project will build upon their current Pride Garden by using the space to host an LGBTQ+ culture club to teach students about queer history and art.
California – Anaheim
School Name: Anaheim High School
This project will support a Pride Week and Pride committee, including a queer dance or march.
Colorado – Arvada
This project will support a queer prom for the school’s students.
Connecticut – Ansonia
School Name: Ansonia High School
This project will continue Ansonia High School’s Pride celebrations by hosting an LGBTQ+ student trip to NYC and to the the United Nations.
Delaware – Camden
This project will continue the work developed during the previous grant cycle by hosting trainings for school staff from multiple schools.
Georgia – Decatur
School Name: Decatur High School
This project will provide suicide prevention training for staff surrounding LGBTQ+ issues and help fund a mural at the school.
Hawaii – Ewa Beach
School Name: Ilima Intermediate School
This project will help rebuild the school’s GSA through events as well as participation in Honolulu Pride.
Illinois – Chicago
School Name: Jamieson Elementary School
This project will support Pride All Year through the school’s GSA in an effort to create awareness and
celebratory events to build community.
Illinois – Waterloo
School Name: Waterloo Listens on Behalf of Waterloo High School Diversity Club
This project will host multiple events focusing on building empathy and allyship among the school’s high school students.
Illinois – Des Plaines
School Name: Maine West High School
This previous grantee will create a Pride celebration for the community, building off the success from their previous grant project.
Indiana – Indianapolis
School Name: Indiana Connections Academy
This project will support the creation of a mentorship program for GSA student leadership and advisors to continue the strength of the school’s GSA.
Iowa – Waukee
This project will help the school GSA host a Pride event for local area high schools, focusing on LGBTQ+ students, allies, and families.
Kansas – Kansas City
School Name: Piper High School
This project will focus on staff training around LGBTQ+ issues.
Kansas – Hutchinson
This project will focus on creating a mural, a LGBTQ+ resource bulletin board, and adding LGBTQ+ books to the library.
Louisiana – New Orleans
School Name: Benjamin Franklin High School|
This project will focus on creating a QCenter that evokes queer joy and uplifts LGBTQ+ students.
Maine – Lewiston
School Name: Lewiston High School
This project focuses on bolstering the school GSA through activities and staff training.
Maryland – Columbia
School Name: Oakland Mills High School
This project will create a storytelling program for LGBTQ+ students to learn from a range of guest speakers like artists, poets, comic book writers, etc to support an array of expression for LGBTQ+ youth beyond writing short stories.
Maryland – Pocomoke
School Name: Pocomoke High School
This project will work with local chapters of PFLAG and GLSEN to train their school and county on LGBTQ+ identities and intersections.
Michigan – Dewitt
This project will create a first of its kind statewide kickball tournament for LGBTQ+ students.
Michigan – Beverly Hills
School Name: Wylie E. Groves High School
This project will connect middle and high school students to help LGBTQ+ middle schoolers make the transition to high school, including a field trip to the state capitol.
Minnesota – Delano
School Name: Delano High School
This project will support the school GSA by purchasing books for the school and city library and organizing a picnic with other local GSA’s.
Mississippi – Jackson
School Name: Ida B Wells APAC
This previous grantee’s project will continue outreach for the school GSA and Open Arts project, where students 13+ are able to express themselves through art.
Missouri – Liberty
This project will create a gender-affirming closet and mural.
Nebraska – Bennington
This project will create a Gender and Sexuality Resource Center at their school that will include LGBTQ+ books and art.
New Jersey – Somerset
This project will create an LGBTQ+ Youth Social Equity Conference in their district and county.
New Jersey – Bridgeton
School Name: Cumberland Regional High School
This project will create the school’s first Youth Pride Leadership Conference with GSAs and advisors from six secondary schools in the area.
New Jersey – Hackensack
School Name: Hackensack Middle School
This previous grantee’s project will create events and spaces emphasizing queer joy for the school GSA.
New York – Potsdam
School Name: Potsdam Senior High School
This project will create multi-school events, such as GSA movie nights, and create a GSA library.
New York – Poughkeepsie
School Name: Dutchess BOCES CTI
This project will focus on hosting community events to create a welcoming environment in school.
New York – Nyack
School Name: Rockland BOCES River View High School
This project will be hosted at an alternative high school setting for students who have significant social/emotional and behavioral challenges and/or learning disabilities and will be used to create a pride center.
North Carolina – Ramseur
This project will support week-long Pride event, including a drag show and art show.
North Dakota – Grand Forks
This project will support LGBTQ+ care packages and monthly mixers/events with students.
Ohio – Columbus
School Name: Art and College Preparatory Academy
This project will create a Queer Student Union to host events about queer history and Pride.
Oregon – Portland
This project at a French immersion school will help create gender-neutral restrooms and purchase an interactive K-12 LGBTQ+ history curriculum program.
Pennsylvania – McKees Rocks
This project will be build up the school GSA and create a local area GSA network.
Rhode Island – North Kingstown
School Name: North Kingstown High School
This project will fund the creation of LGBTQ+ inclusive curriculum.
South Carolina – North Charleston
School Name: RB Stall High School, We Are Family
This project will help to create the school’s gender resource closet.
Tennessee – Nashville
This project will help create a GSA for the middle school, renovate a gender-inclusive bathroom, and promote engagement with the Nashville community.
Texas – Richardson
This project will revive the school GSA, host speakers, and provide student-led teacher training.
Utah – Park City
This project will create queer club and physical safe space at the school.
Vermont – Colchester
This project will involve the school and the community in creating pride crosswalks and hosting a community event.
Virginia – Lynchburg
School Name: E.C. Glass High School
This project will bolster the school GSA through creating a safe room, hosting leadership workshops, and adding LGBTQ+ books to the library.
Virginia – Salem
School Name: Salem High School
This previous grantee will continue their work by introducing other culture clubs and hosting events, such as field trips and baking events.
Washington – Seattle
School Name: Seattle Public Schools
This project will support a community and culture conference, specifically focusing on BIPOC LGBTQ+ students.
Washington – Bellingham
School Name: Squalicum High School
This project will support the school’s Queer Student Alliance, host LGBTQ+ speakers, and connect with other student groups.
Washington – Chattaroy
School Name: Riverside Community and the city and state of Chattaroy, Washington
This project will support events and field trips for inter-school GSAs to show what queer life and acceptance looks like.
West Virginia – Charleston
School Name: Collaboration of select high schools in West Virginia
This project will help create “inclusivity zones” throughout their area; physical spaces where LGBTQ+ students can go to feel supportive and attend events.
Wisconsin – Milwaukee
This project will create a district-wide GSA student leadership summit.
Wisconsin – Kaukauna
School Name: River View Middle School
This project will focus on multi-day outdoor field trips, such as camping and to local state parks, to get LGBTQ+ students outside and learning valuable life skills.
Utah – Encircle
School Name: Encircle Family and Youth Resource Center
This project will help complete the Heber City, Utah home for LGBTQ+ youth, run by the organization Encircle. These funds are to continue the work done by our Utah grantee from the previous cycle.
It Gets Better – Youth Grants (Canada)
Alberta – Stony Plain
This project will support the school’s 2SLGBTQ+ Pride festival, which includes speakers and local queer businesses.
Alberta – Edmonton
School Name: Old Scona Academic
This project will create an Alberta-wide conference for middle and high school students, focusing mostly on BIPOC and First Nation LGBTQ+ students.
British Columbia – Creston
School Name: Kootenay Lake School District
This project will support a series of initiatives promoting a sense of Pride and activism year round.
British Columbia – North Vancouver
This project will support a Pride Week with themed activities and a queer prom featuring live music by local queer bands.
Manitoba – Brandon
School Name: École secondaire Neelin High School
This project will help to create a gender neutral changing room and gender resource closet at the school.
Manitoba – Winnipeg
This project will support the school’s GSA and a retreat.
New Brunswick – Nackawic
This project will support multiple Pride Month events, including a dance and Pride walk.
Newfoundland and Labrador – Happy Valley-Goose Bay
This project will create a physical safe space for community outreach and student support, focusing specifically on the rural northern Labrador community and Innu and Inuit populations.
Nova Scotia – Baddeck
This project involves two schools, with one mentoring and supporting the other to build their GSA.
Nova Scotia – Eskasoni
School Name: Allison Bernard Memorial High School
This project is a conference planned during Mi’kmaq History Month Oct 2023 for students from across Nova Scotia.
Ontario – Toronto
This project will support a year-long Pride activation, including speakers, a mural, and a Parade.
Ontario – Brampton
School Name: Brampton Centennial Secondary Scool
This project aims to bolster 2SLGBTQIA+ students by creating a gender-affirming closet, hosting a speaker series, and providing mental health resources.
Quebec – Lachute
School Name: CDC LACHUTE
This project will establish GSAs across the region in nine high schools, host a speaker series, and add LGBTQ+ books to school libraries.
Yukon – Faro
School Name: Del Van Gorder School
This project will build out the school’s GSA space, connect with other GSAs, and petition to have a Pride event in the city.
Newfoundland and Labrador – Torbay
School Name: Holy Trinity High School
This project will aim to host a series of community based events that highlight the 2SLGBTQ+ community at their school and in their town.