Alumnae Quarterly, Fall 2007

Jolene Fund Helps Lesbian Women Stay in School

Sometimes, we imagine Mount Holyoke as a haven or a bubble that the "isms" of the outside world cannot touch. For two students, the bubble popped in January. Their parents refused to continue to pay tuition, leaving the students responsible for their own fees. The reason? The women were discovered to be lesbians.

While this story has played out with a sad ending for many students over the years, this year is different. This year, the Jolene Fund provided an interest-free loan to both students, shoring up their finances and making their dreams of college degrees a reality. Established in 2003, the fund supports students who have been cut off financially from their parents due to their sexual orientation.

One loan recipient wrote, "I picked up my check from the Jolene Fund yesterday, and I cannot begin to thank you for the loan, and also for the confidentiality and the compassion which was shown me when I sought it out. I hope that one day, when the tables are turned, I can help someone else just like you helped me."

To find out more about the namesake and history of the Jolene Fund and how you can support students whose education is in jeopardy because of homophobia at home, go to

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