by Travis Mears, Director of Development & Scholarship Programs
| Aug 14, 2017
2017 was the start of several exciting, new ventures at GSBA focusing on developing skills for both small business owners and GSBA scholars, including the Business Literacy Series and the Leadership Academy. With these new programs off to an exciting start, GSBA is unifying them under the Lead Bold Initiative, providing an opportunity for both sides of GSBA to work concertedly under a common strategy.
The Lead Bold Initiative fulfills strategic goals for the organization, including being a driver and powerful
influencer for business, prosperity, and equality; investing in tomorrow’s leaders; and growing a sustainable chamber. It also sits atop our four foundational pillars of business, community, advocacy, and philanthropy. While workshops aimed at building small business skills have long been a part of GSBA programming, these efforts were formalized as the Business Literacy Series in 2017 in part thanks to a grant from Wells Fargo and the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. This economic development grant was meant to increase the number of certified LGBT business enterprises as well as provide those businesses with skills to thrive in a competitive environment, such as financial literacy. With the continuation of this grant into 2018, GSBA is able to further expand its offerings to reflect the full business lifecycle and wide variety of GSBA member businesses and organizations.
Last year the Scholarship Fund instituted the GSBA Guarantee, a commitment to support scholars financially for up to four years of undergraduate education and to support them in building the necessary resiliency to graduate in a timely manner. Building off that idea, the Scholarship Steering Committee is now launching the GSBA Leadership Academy to provide Scholars with experiences helping them discern who they are as leaders in their own communities and how they can make a difference beyond the classroom. The inaugural Leadership Academy brought 40 GSBA scholars together
at Islandwood on Bainbridge Island in August of 2017.
Both of these efforts are designed to have serious long-term impact. Data collection and feedback from
participants is critical to the evolution of Lead Bold as it supports growing leaders in the LGBT and business communities. GSBA encourages all its members to learn more about Lead Bold, how they can benefit from the initiative, and how we can build a successful and sustainable program for all our benefit.
“GSBA has reimagined the traditional scholarship model to one that focuses on student success
both during and after their formal studies. The GSBA Leadership Academy is a ground-breaking program
that brings scholars together to build supporting relationships and develop leadership skills uniquely
tailored to our communities’ and scholars’ needs. While a number of institutions offer leadership training, GSBA is among the first to provide a program tailored specifically to the LGBT and business communities. Once again GSBA has demonstrated what true business and civic leadership looks like.”
-Steve Crandall, GSBA Business Man of the Year 2005, Antioch University Board of Governors, CEO ProMotion Holdings
“We’ve identified the need and have taken steps to meet it. As a business chamber dedicated to social justice, with our finger on the pulse of one of the fastest growing economies in the country, we have
taken a stand on improving the landscape of higher education for our scholars. The students will spend time bonding as a cohort establishing lifelong relationships while at the same time grappling through content presented by experts specifically geared toward their growth as our future leaders. It is clear that our country is starved for quality leadership – rather than sitting idly by, GSBA is taking a stand to fill this void – while at the same time giving the scholars the skills necessary to persist through their higher education careers.” -Travis Mears, GSBA Director of Development & Scholarship Programs