Celebrities and 400 guests experienced an inspiring evening at The Plaza April 9, in support of Point Foundation ( Point ), the nation's largest scholarship-granting organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer ( LGBTQ ) students of merit. The annual Point Honors New York event raises funds for Point's higher education scholarships, as well as mentoring and leadership programs.
Influential journalist Ronan Farrow was presented with the Point Courage Award by MSNBC's Thomas Roberts, himself a past Point honoree. The Point Courage Award recognizes those who have advocated for the future of the LGBTQ and allied community and believe investing in today's potential will produce a brighter tomorrow. Farrow said:
"Being a part of the LGBT community which recognized that reporting I was doing early on and elevated it, and has been such a stalwart source of support through the sexual assault reporting I did involving survivors who felt equally invisible that has been an incredible source of strength for me. LGBT people are some of the bravest and most potent change agents and leaders I have encountered, and the most forceful defenders of the vulnerable and voiceless, because they know what it's like to be there."
Actor and singer Laura Benanti was introduced by fellow Broadway star Celia Keenan Bolger, who presented Benanti with the Point Impact Award. The award recognizes an individual making a significant impact on improving the LGBTQ and allied community. Accepting the award, Benanti said:
"Now, more than ever, we need organizations like the Point Foundation to support, protect, energize and mobilize those of us who were not born rich, cis, white men…Thank you again for this tremendous honor. I promise to do my best to make an impact for LGBT youth every day."
Actor and musician from FOX's hit series, "Empire," Jussie Smollett, performed a set of uplifting songs, while comedian Michelle Collins hosted the festive evening. Additional celebrity attendees included Ted Allen, Jason Collins, Larry Flick, Tyler Ford, Tamron Hall, Erica Hill, Eileen Kelly, Andrew Kennan-Bolger, Don Lemon, Valerie Smaldone, Jenna Ushkowitz, and others.
"The many generous sponsors and supporters Point is fortunate to call friends, all sincerely believe that the source of our nation's strength and potential is its youth," said Jorge Valencia, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of Point Foundation. "Everyone joining us tonight, from our honorees to each audience member, is helping Point empower the next generation of leaders our world needs."
Presenting: Wells Fargo
Premiere Sponsors: Cadillac, Hilton, HSBC, Janssen Infection Diseases
Principal Sponsors: Merrill Lynch, Time Warner
National Media Sponsors: The Advocate and Pride.com
Local Media Sponsor: Gay City News
Friend of Point: Winston Art Group
About: Point Foundation empowers promising LGBTQ students to achieve their full academic and leadership potential despite the obstacles often put before them to make a significant impact on society. The Foundation promotes change through scholarship funding, mentorship, leadership development and community service training. www.pointfoundation.org | Facebook/pointfoundation | Twitter/pointfoundation | Instagram/pointfoundation | #PointHonors