Home Madison Freedom, Inc. accepting applications for two Black Queer Scholarships until June 1

Freedom, Inc. accepting applications for two Black Queer Scholarships until June 1


Freedom, Inc. has extended the deadline for two Black Queer Scholarships and will now accept applications until June 1.

There are two $500 scholarships; one for youth, between 17 and 24-years-old, and one for an adult, 25-years-old and older. Applicants must be Black and identify as Queer–Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, Intersex, Gender Fluid, Gender Nonconforming, +.

“For us, empowerment is personal and it means something different. Regardless of what you do, you should have the autonomy and freedom to do whatever you want to do,” Community Power Building Coordinator Mahnker Dahnweih said.

The Marsha P. Johnson Scholarship for Youth Education and the Pat Parker Scholarship for Adult Education honors critical Black history “sheroes” while supporting educational opportunities for Black LGBTQ+ folks in Dane County. Johnson co-founded Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), the first gay, gender non-conforming, and transgender street activist organization in 1970 which provided shelter and food to homeless queer youth and organized for Transgender rights. Parker, both a poet and activist, was a member of the Black Panther Party, Black Women’s Revolutionary Council, and formed the Women’s Press Collective. 

“Her contribution to Radical Queer Black Feminisms on the topics of gender oppression and domestic violence was invaluable,” Dahnweih said.

The Queer Black Scholarship comes from Big Share donations. Freedom Inc. is a Wisconsin Community Shares partner and every year in early March, the organization participates in a day of giving to local nonprofits. 

“This year we raised close to $25,000 from over 400 donors,” Dahnweih said.

Freedom Inc’s mission is to end violence in and against communities of color. Dahnweih said the members of the organization envision a world where Black, Hmong, and Khmer women, youth, and LGBTQI+ folx get to thrive. Their Black Queer Scholarship program is an extension of this mission.

Dahnweih said these scholarships help Black Queer people pursue an education for whatever their reasons are, for social prestige or respect and/or returning to help their community. Both awards help support individuals pursuing their post-secondary degrees in any four-year institution, community college, vocational program, or professional program. The Black Queer Scholarship program is about helping Black LGBTQ+ folx access resources for their educational endeavors. 

“Black Transgender people are systemically pushed out of school settings for not conforming to expected dress codes, being labeled “disruptive” for their gender expression, and being targeted for discrimination by school staff and administration,” Dahnweih said.

She said that trans students are criminalized in schools. This often leads to traumatic experiences such as arrest, detainment, and incarceration because of the transphobia inherent in law enforcement agencies. 

“Our Police Free Schools campaign is a direct result of this transformative model. We have Queer Black Youth in our membership who have been assaulted by police and are organizing to make sure every Queer Black Youth in Madison is invested in, offered transformative justice, not cops, and has control decision-making power in their school experience,” she said.

Dahnweih said this scholarship program is their way of investing in the leadership, creativity, and wellness of Queer Black students in Madison — both as youth and adults. Those interested in applying must submit a 500-750-word essay or 5-7 minute video explaining how the education they plan to pursue will help them make an impact on their community. 

Freedom Inc. extended the application period. Anyone interested in applying or donating can contact them at [email protected].