A Post Secondary Scholarship for Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans, 2-Spirited and Queer Students in Ontario
About the Bill 7 Award
Supporting Queer Students Since 1988
Post-secondary education is invaluable, but it’s not cheap. For many young people, it’s a constant struggle to scrape together the money required to continue in school. Now try to imagine the situation for some queer youth: for example, someone who has been thrown out by their family and is living on their own.
At Bill 7, we believe that one of the realities of our community is that we form “chosen families”, and it is our role and our responsibility to support these young people when their own families cannot or will not.
Who We Are
The Bill 7 Award is a registered charitable trust that awards scholarships to gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, queer and 2-spirited students, resident in Ontario and in financial need in any post-secondary institution in Ontario.
The Bill 7 Award is directed by a Board of Trustees whose members are appointed by two organizations; Supporting Our Youth at the Sherbourne Health Centre, and the Community One Foundation (formerly, the Lesbian and Gay Community Appeal).
Supporting Our Youth is a unique dynamic community development program that has been creating opportunities for LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer) youth and adults in Toronto to build an inclusive, welcoming community together since 1998. SOY creates healthy arts, cultural and recreational spaces for young people; supports youth in building skills and developing capacities; and increases youth access to adult mentoring and support. Initially established with support from Ontario Trillium Foundation and Central Toronto Youth Services, it has been a programme of Sherbourne Health Centre in downtown Toronto since 2004.
SOY was the response to a community needs assessment in the late 1990s, which made it clear how isolated and unsupported LGBTQ youth in Toronto felt. It was the first community development program of its kind in Canada, set up specifically to support young people aged 14-29 who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer or questioning. SOY continues to adapt and grow to meet youth needs. It offers a wide range of services, from one-to-one advice and advocacy to arts-based workshops and regular social and support groups, and works closely with community partners to make them as effective as possible. Around 250 LGBTQ youth now participate each week. A small team of dedicated staff, hundreds of adult and youth volunteers, and the generosity of our communities, help keep SOY relevant, innovative, and there to support LGBTQ youth when most needed.
The Community One Foundation was founded in 1980 as the Lesbian and Gay Community Appeal by a group of people who believed that the community would support the advancement of lesbian and gay projects, artists and organizations within Toronto. Individual artists, writers and organizations were often rebuffed when they attempted to get funding for lesbian and gay projects from traditional sources. Consequently, many were spending most of their time fundraising and were unable to achieve their goals. While no organization is allowed to be totally dependent on the Community One Foundation for operational costs, the project-specific funding available from the Foundation strengthens existing and future lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organizations and our cultural and artistic growth. It has always been the mandate of the Foundation to fund projects which equally benefit the lesbian and gay male communities. The Foundation has also expanded its mission to include support for bisexual, transgendered/transsexual and two-spirited (gay aboriginal) communities.