Spokane native Danielle Carver, who goes by her last name, is not only a Pride Foundation former scholar and current Leadership Action Team member, but also an ambitious and community-minded person full of compassion with a big heart. She is one of Pride Foundation’s many scholars whose life has been transformed because of the support of donors, volunteers, and her community.
“Pride Foundation donors are the people who believe in us. They’re the people to whom I am forever grateful.” Carver continues, fighting back the tears, “It’s life changing. Sometimes I don’t think the donors realize how powerful their gift can be.”
Early in life, Carver was devastated by abuse. At 6 months old, Carver was put in foster care and spent her childhood being shuffled back and forth between family and foster care. Her junior high years were just as difficult. Rather than escaping the pain of her home life at school, she was mercilessly bullied because she was “different.”
“I felt hopeless, alone, and like no one listened,” said Carver. Her isolation was compounded as she now faced her sexual identity and what the future would bring.
The turning point for Carver began late in her freshman year of high school. She took a leadership class that would help her to grow. She also learned that one of her great joys in life is community.
At age sixteen Carver decided to come out. She learned about and began attending programs at Odyssey Youth Center—getting much needed emotional support.
During this time of beginning to feel accepted and appreciated by her peers, Carver’s mom—with who she was living with at the time—decided to move out of state, but Carver made the choice to stay in Spokane. She found herself homeless, resorting to couch surfing at friends’ houses, and began working three jobs all-the-while attending high school. Carver graduated in 2003.
While at Odyssey, Carver was urged to apply for a Pride Foundation scholarship and encouraged to share her story.
“It [receiving a Pride Foundation scholarship] will inspire others,” said Carver, now 28, remembering what friends told her and what her initial reaction was. “It was overwhelming—I was terrified. The whole process was intimidating.”
She applied for and received her first scholarship of many—the application process was easier than she had expected.
“I didn’t understand what it meant until I was in my classroom, hearing about oppression and overcoming obstacles,” said Carver. “That’s when it really hit me what receiving a scholarship truly means. For me it was that I’d come to a place where I believed in myself enough to apply for one and that I had a large community, more than I ever realized, who believed in me.”
Carver, who has always been and continues to be active in her community, wants to give back. Currently, she plays an active role as a Leadership Action Team member for Pride Foundation in Eastern Washington. With an Associate’s Degree in Social Work and soon to be Master’s, her volunteer experience, and working with mentally-ill cliental, Carver hopes to one day work with at-risk youth and help those who are oppressed. “This is my dream job”, says Carver.
“Receiving a Pride Foundation scholarship really made an impact on my life,” Carver added. “It empowered me.”
Pride Foundation’s online scholarship application is now available for LGBTQ and straight ally students from or studying in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. Washington applicants are also eligible for consideration from the GSBA Scholarship Program. Read more about our scholarship program. The application deadline is January 31, 2013.