OPALGA+ 2024 Student
Scholarship Fund Recipients

The Oak Park Area Lesbian and Gay Association Plus (OPALGA+) Board of Directors and its Scholarship Committee are pleased to announce the 2024 OPALGA+ Scholars who will each receive a $5,000 scholarship for continuing their studies in 2024-25. 

  • Archer Bart (he/him) from Willow Springs, Lyons Township High School, attending Columbia College Chicago in the fall
  • Emma Costello-Wollwage (she/her) from Oak Park, Oak Park-River Forest High School, attending University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the fall
  • Emily Gonzalez (she/her) from Chicago, Pritzker College Prep, returning scholar at Dominican University in the fall
  • Sean Groh (he/him) from Chicago, Lane Tech College Prep, attending Drake University in the fall
  • Sherlyn Herrera (they/them) from Chicago, Steinmetz College Prep High School, attending Loyola University Chicago in the fall
  • Jude Kennedy (he/him) from Oak Park, Oak Park-River Forest High School, attending Boston University in the fall
  • Aspyn Lawrence (they/she) from LaGrange, Lyons Township High School, attending Loyola University in the fall
  • Delaney McHugh (they/he) from Chicago, Whitney M Young Magnet High School, attending University of Wisconsin Eau Claire in the fall
  • Kennedy Smith (she/they) from Chicago, Lindblom Math & Science Academy, attending University of Wisconsin Madison in the fall
  • Taylor Montes-Williams (she/her) from Oak Park, Oak Park-River Forest High School, returning scholar at University of New Mexico

The OPALGA+ Scholarship Fund provides financial support for the continuing education of LGBTQ+ students and allies from Cook County who have demonstrated service and advocacy to the LGBTQ+ community and/or the larger community. OPALGA+ recognizes that young people in the LGBTQ+ community face unique challenges in high school, college, and trade school programs.

OPALGA+ is committed to providing support for the next generation of activists and leaders who are self-identified members and/or allies of the LGBTQ+ community. Since 2014, OPALGA+ has awarded over $220,000 in scholarships including $27,000 in 2022, $40,000 in 2023 and now $50,000 (the highest amount ever awarded in a single year) in 2024.

OPALGA+ raises funds by soliciting its membership throughout the year, having a fundraising Scholarship gala each October, and obtaining corporate sponsorships from local businesses. More than 200 people attended the 2023 gala at the Nineteenth Century Charitable Association  in Oak Park. The emcee for the event was Tim Joyce, the WGN TV meteorologist who is openly gay and an Oak Park-River Forest High School alum. Funds were raised from raffle ticket sales and a live auction led by current OPALGA+ Co-Chair John Becvar as well as online donations.

You can join OPALGA+ in recognizing the 2024 scholars at the  OPALGA+ Scholarship Gala on October 19, 2024 at the Nineteenth  Century Charitable Association, Oak Park. This year’s gala theme is “Equality for Everyone.” Tickets go on sale in August and proceeds benefit the 2025-26 scholarship program. To donate to the Scholarship Fund, visit opalga.org/donate

OPALGA+ is a 501.c.3 organization formed in 1989 and has no paid staff. All funds raised for scholarships are sent  directly to the schools  the students plan to attend. The all volunteer Scholarship and Gala Committees spend countless hours promoting the scholarship program, reviewing applications, soliciting sponsors and planning the fundraising gala. For more information about the organization, visit www.opalga.org

Applications for the 2025-26 school-year scholarships open in October 2024 and are due in February 2025. Eligibility is limited to current   high school seniors who reside in our targeted geographic area as well as prior scholarship recipients. Requirements include completing  an application, writing  an essay, and obtaining letters of recommendation  prior to the application deadline. The Board has decided to award a minimum of eight (8) $5,000 awards in 2025.

If you would like to donate to the 2025-’26 Student Scholarship Fund, please click on the PayPal button below. If you have any questions, please send email info@opalga.org.