February 01, 2011

>Thank You for Helping GLSEN Win $250K in the Pepsi Refresh Everything Contest

>When I got the news this morning, I wasn’t sure if I was still dreaming: it appears that GLSEN has finished in second place in the Pepsi Refresh voting, winning $250,000 in support of our Safe Space Campaign. The official announcement of the results won’t take place until Feb. 23, but it looks as if we’ve done it.

Whatever the final results, I feel like GLSEN has already received something priceless – the outpouring of support from individuals and organizations standing with us in the last few days of the contest, generating a flood of votes that put us over the top. Our friends at The Progressive Slate, the coalition we joined as the voting started, were amazed by the GLSEN groundswell in the final days. It is really humbling, and my colleagues and I are so grateful.

This funding is going to a truly critical effort to make schools more welcoming places for LGBT students and any student dealing with anti-LGBT bias. The Safe Space Kits at the heart of our campaign make it possible for school staff to be visible as a source of support by putting up a Safe Space sticker or poster, and active as an agent of change by reaching out to their colleagues to discuss how the school community can come together to be truly safe and supportive for all students. Research has consistently demonstrated that supportive adults in a school community are crucial for a student’s well-being and success, and this funding will help promote adult support for LGBT students in 10,000 schools across the country.

I have to thank a lot of people and organizations in particular for their help: Chely Wright, spokesperson for the campaign and GLSEN’s great friend; Scott Zumwalt, Brian Pines, Thomas Gensemer and all our friends at It Gets Better; Gregory Lewis at True Colors Fund/Give a Damn Campaign, and Cyndi Lauper for her individual support as well; Cathy Nelson and Lindsey Twombly at HRC for getting the word out far and wide; The Trevor Project; American Foundation for Suicide Prevention; the ACLU LGBT & AIDS Project; GLAAD; America’s Promise Alliance; the Ad Council; Anti-Violence Project; Joe Wilson and Out in the Silence; Eva Kolodner and the staff of the IRC; Eidolon Communications; Andrew Oldershaw and Fifteen Minutes; Fab.com; Hilary Duff; Perez Hilton; Kristin Chenoweth; Wilson Cruz; Jeri Ryan; Ben Cohen; Krisily Kennedy; Sara Rue; Del Shores; Larry Flick from Sirius Out Q The Morning Jolt; John Aravosis and Joe Sudbay at Americablog and Americablog Gay; Joe Jervis from Joe.My.God; DiversityInc; The Advocate; Out Magazine; Employee Resource Groups at all of our corporate partners but in particular FOX and Sodexo; our volunteer leadership bodies; GLSEN Chapters and student leaders; and Pepsi for the opportunity. And, of course, all of the thousands of individuals who actually turned out to vote and shared and tweeted with all their friends. I cannot thank you all – and all of the people and organizations I’m forgetting – enough.

I congratulate all our friends on The Progressive Slate – GLAD, Equality PA, PROMO Fund, Beth Meyer, Energy Action Coalition, JustGive.org, Netroots Nation, New Leaders Council, and Uncommon Good – and the Center for Progressive Leadership for organizing the coalition. A lot of critical support is going to very important causes from this round of funding. And we seem to have won one of the top prizes – fingers crossed. We could not have done this without the incredible support of so many, from so many different communities. My heart is full, and I thank you all so much.
Eliza Byard, GLSEN Executive Director

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