March 4, 2015 at 3:56 pm EST | by Staff reports
SMYAL launches Youth Leadership Awards
Sultan Shakir, SMYAL, gay news, Washington Blade, Youth Leadership Award

SMYAL Executive Director Sultan Shakir (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

SMYAL this week announced a new Youth Leadership Awards scholarship program for LGBT students in the D.C. metropolitan area. Selected students will receive a cash award of up to $2,000 during their first semester in college that can be used without restriction.

“The SMYAL Youth Leadership Award scholarships are a major new initiative for SMYAL to help launch the next generation of leaders,” said Sultan Shakir, executive director of SMYAL. “It complements our efforts supporting Gay Straight Alliances at metro area high schools and conducting leadership ‘boot camps’ for upcoming student leaders.”

The initial funding for the first three years of awards was donated by Neil Starkey, a retired IBM engineer to, as he put it, “encourage and embolden that young person who, as a result of coming out, may have had to deal with adversity or struggled with their identity, family life or academics but has emerged as a leader and role model to their peers,” according to a SMYAL statement.

SMYAL will partner with Team DC, which currently offers scholarships for high school LGBT athletes in the D.C. metro area to attend institutions of higher education. “SMYAL is pleased to partner with Team DC to launch these awards in an effort to help expand financial opportunities for LGBT youth,” said Shakir.

Brent Minor, executive director of Team DC, noted, “With the addition of this scholarship, LGBT youth now have more support and opportunity to reach their goals.”

Visit for details; the deadline for applications is April 15 and the awards will be announced in May.

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