Since 2015, the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council (PBCHRC) has presented Daniel S. Hall Social Justice Award scholarships to local college-bound high school seniors. The scholarships are awarded to applicants who have experience in advocacy on behalf of the LGBTQ community. As the scholarships are not need-based, they often are presented to students from financially secure families.
2016 Award Recipient Victor Espidol and Dan Hall
Last summer, PBCHRC was made aware of a gay first-year student at the University of Virginia - one of the nation's top schools. A native of Palm Beach County and a Forest Hill High School graduate, Danny was raised by a single mother who cleaned offices to provide for her three children. Although he grew up within walking distance of CityPlace, Danny never had been there. He never even had been to a movie theater. His mother did not make enough money to provide "extras" for the family.
Although Danny received a "full" scholarship from the University of Virginia, money was tight. He did not have the money to participate in student activities. As Danny cut back on meals to help make ends meet, his grades suffered. Placed on academic probation, he returned home and took a job to help his family.
When PBCHRC's Board Members learned of Danny's plight, we wanted to find a way to help him and other similarly situated local LGBTQ people.
PBCHRC's accountants advised us to establish a charitable organization that would be exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of Title 26 of the United States Code. (PBCHRC is a 501(c)(4) advocacy organization, and as such, is not tax-exempt.)
Therefore, PBCHRC's Board of Directors voted to establish the PBCHRC Charitable Foundation to fund educational scholarships and other charitable endeavors. The Foundation's officers and directors are Carly Cass, Rae Franks, Chauncey Graham, Dan Hall, Rand Hoch, Meredith Ockman and Trent Steele.
Thanks to the generosity ofIntegrity Palm Beachand a few longtime supporters, the Foundation was funded. The Foundation agreed to make distributions to the University of Virginia to cover Danny's meal plan through his gradution -- as long as he maintained a C average. (To further assist him, Scott Simmons, a longtime PBCHRC supporter, took Danny shopping for clothes so that he could better fit in with his classmates.) This past fall, Danny excelled in his coursework and joined his school's Queer Student Union.
University of Virginia Queer Student Union in action
In October, PBCHRC Board Member Jasmin Lewis, who is also the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) sponsor at Palm Beach Gardens High School, approached the Foundation. She informed us that the GSA students had designed T-shirts to increase visibility on campus. However, coming from mostly low-income families, they could not afford to have the shirts made and distributed to members. Jasmin also told us that hardly any of the members could afford to pay the GSA dues needed to cover supplies and food for meetings.
Palm Beach Gardens High School Gay Straight Alliance
The PBCHRC Charitable Foundation agreed to contribute $1,000 to cover GSA dues and the cost of the T-shrits for all sixty members. In appreciation, the GSA members made a slight alteration to their T-shirt design by adding the PBCHRC logo on the sleeves.
The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, Inc. is dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. The Council promotes equality, through education, advocacy, direct action, impact litigation, and community outreach.