The mission of the NIRSA Foundation is to provide NIRSA members with meaningful opportunities for scholarship, research, and personal and professional development. These opportunities evolve to address changing issues and economic challenges facing members and campus recreation. We’re able to accomplish our mission thanks to the generous donations made by NIRSA individual and associate members.
One such member is Laurie Braden, Executive Director, University Recreation at Louisiana State University. Laurie established the Frederick R. Braden Endowment in 2016 with the purpose of honoring her father and supporting LGBTQI professional and student members with registration scholarships to attend the NIRSA Annual Conference. Thanks to amazing support from NIRSA members, this endowment has increased in its ability to support NIRSA members and has offered scholarships annually since its inception. Laurie learned that registration is not the only support members need to attend the annual conference.
“Hearing of the challenges that many young LGBTQI students and members face in terms of support, or lack of, from family and/or schools, I realized that a registration scholarship might not be enough—that travel support would greatly help a scholarship recipient attend the Annual Conference,” says Laurie. “It takes tremendous courage to come out and be your authentic self at a young age and when you are trying to launch or expand your career—I want the Braden Endowment to help people who are brave at a point in time when hiding could be easier. I want them to know that we are here for them.”
Laurie began working with the Foundation Board of Directors to expand the endowment’s ability to impact professional and student members. The Foundation Board passed a motion to launch a two-year pilot program to support additional travel support for the recipients of the Braden, Founders, and Small Programs Scholarships. This additional support will provide up to $500 in additional funding to support travel and accommodation expenses and will launch in Fall 2020 along with the scholarship application process. Look for more details on the NIRSA website. The purpose of starting this as a pilot program is to better assess our member needs.
In launching this pilot, Janice DeMonsi, Director of Recreation at Santa Clara University, shares that “we are excited to pilot these travel grant options for Braden, Founders, and Small Programs. We know that professional development budgets are changing for many of our members, especially in light of COVID-19, and we want to stay relevant with what members need. Support for the Foundation allows us to be strategic in our decisions with the money raised to advance the profession and support our members’ needs.”