Rochester Initiative for Scholarship and Education Brunch

The RISE Brunch honors local Rochester LGBTQ+ Community Leaders while serving as the primary fund-raiser supporting the Rochester LGBTQ Scholarship Fund and the Out Alliance Youth and Leadership Development Programs.

Rochester Initiative for Scholarship and Education

As the needs of young LGBTQ+ people change in a more safe and accepting world, one constant will be the need for leadership development and academic opportunity. As the Out Alliance examines how best to serve our youth in the future, the idea of providing scholarships that are bolstered by leadership conferences, mentoring programs, internships and opportunities for community service has emerged as the most effective model for building the next generation of LGBTQ+ leaders.

RISE (the Rochester Initiative for Scholarship and Education) is a group of local Rochester visionaries and volunteers who are invested in the creation of a local leadership and scholarship program to foster the emergence of tomorrow’s LGBTQ+ leaders. Under the Out Alliance umbrella, this program will serve as a vital element in the services that the Alliance can provide.

Once again this year RISE will host an annual brunch fundraiser, open to the public, the proceeds of which will be split between direct “flow-through” scholarships, monies going into the endowment for the Rochester LGBTQ Scholarship Fund which is housed at the Rochester Area community Foundation and funds to be used for the Out Alliance leadership programs.

The RISE Brunch is an annual event dedicated to recognizing and celebrating the community leaders of today and tomorrow who have enriched, empowered and inspired the LGBTQ+ presence in Rochester.

Additionally the Brunch is the primary fundraising source for Out Alliance initiatives in support of future local LGBTQ+ leaders, offering scholarships for post-secondary students receiving an education locally. Funds may also used to provide opportunities for internships, leadership training and community service experience. Investment in tomorrow’s LGBTQ leaders demands that we “give local to thrive local”.

Rochester LGBTQ, Susan A. Cowell, & James R. Moran Scholarships

The Rochester LGBTQ Scholarship Funds were created in 2015 by the Out Alliance of the Genesee Valley as a way for individuals and organizations to support LGBTQ community members pursuing post secondary education. The goal is to provide scholarships each year to LGBTQ+ identified people. In addition to the Rochester LGBTQ Scholarship, individuals or Organizations may establish named scholarship funds within the Rochester LGBTQ Scholarship Funds. For more information on establishing a named fund contact the Rochester Area Community Foundation. 

The Susan A. Cowell Scholarship was the first named scholarship established as a part of the Rochester LGBTQ Scholarship Funds. This scholarship was created in 2015 by members of the Rochester LGBTQ+ community in recognition and gratitude for Susan A. Cowell’s 38 years of political, economic, and social activism in support of the Rochester LGBTQ+ community. Susan’s unparalleled contributions and achievements during the AIDS crisis, in politics, in business, in the arts, as a social activist and as a medical provider have made a lasting difference in the lives of so many. Past and present, Susan stands as a passionate, caring woman who embraces change and continues to create a more just, equitable and welcoming community for all – locally, statewide and nationally. It is hoped that this scholarship will foster leadership skills in those who will build “on the shoulders of a giant”, Susan Cowell. 

The James R. Moran Scholarship was established in 2016 by LGBTQ+ advocate and retired school teacher James Moran to support and cultivate future LGBTQ+ leaders. The 2017 RISE Brunch was the inaugural year for this scholarship to be awarded. 

Purpose of Scholarship: To assist students who are LGBTQ+ identified or in pursuit of post secondary education in fields aligned with public health policy, non-profit administration or social justice activism, including social activism through the arts.

Number and Size of Awards: One or more awards; minimum award of $1000.

Allowed Use of Award: Awards may be used for tuition, fees, books and other expenses associated with higher education. 

Contact Information:

RISE Brunch
c/o Out Alliance
100 College Avenue #100
Rochester, NY 14607

The 2018 Scholarship recipients were:

Aziya Cooper – Susan A. Cowell Scholarship
Tina Harper-Ricks – James R. Moran scholarship
Grace Myers – Rochester LGBTQ Scholarship
Karen Knoll – Rochester LGBTQ Scholarship

The 2017 RISE Community Leadership Award will be presented at the brunch. Check back soon for an update.

The 2016 RISE Community Leadership Award was presented to …

The 2015 RISE Youth Leadership Award was presented to Lauren Laroche, a graduating senior from Rush Henrietta High School, in recognition of her deep commitment to advancing the visibility and acceptance of LGBTQ students. Some young people show early in life that they are destined to change the world around themselves for the better. Clearly Lauren embodies the qualities that mark an outstanding youth leader. While a senior at Rush Henrietta, Lauren was senior student officer for her GSA and a youth representative on the Rochester LGBTQ Youth Community Council facilitated by Trillium Health. Her commitment and “can do” attitude inspired the solid growth of the GSA and for the first time they marched in the Pride Parade. She created a safe and welcoming place for others, always ready to support and advocate.

The following community members serve on our 2018 RISE Brunch Committee: Todd Perkins Susan Papa Marlene Dattilo Bruce Trombley


RISE Champions
James R. Moran
Steven Jarose & Marvin Ritzenthaler
Constellation Brands
Bachelor Forum
Trillium Health

Platinum Sponsors
Excellus BCBS
Richard Sarkis

Gold Sponsors
Shirley Bowen & Tracy Perkins
W. Bruce Gorman
Marta Maletzke & Susan Cowell
Emily Jones & Deborah Hughes
David Zona

Silver Sponsors
John Roth & Jeanna Bonacci-Roth
Dr. Bruce Woolley, Ph.D.
Bill DeStevens
John Altieri & Stephen Tendrich
Jason & William Barnecut-Kearns
BJ Scanlon
Memorial Art Gallery
Nannette Nocon
Pamela and Suzanne Barres
Colleen Raimond & Lisa Cunningham

Bronze Sponsors
Evelyn Bailey
Carol & Dana Ebersole-Weiss
Rochester Victory Alliance
Xerox Galaxe
Jeff Myers
Chloe Corcoran
Jeffrey Lambert
Paul Birkby
Luis Rosario-McCabe
Pride at Work
Martin Murphy

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If you would like to donate to the Silent Auction please contact Joshua Stapf at 585-244-8640 or by emailing