Carmel High School students receive $10K grant to fund 2023 Carmel Pride event


A group of Carmel High School students who organize the annual Carmel Pride event are among 50 nationwide recipients of $10,000 grants to fund projects that empower LGBTQ+ students.

The Carmel students plan to use the grant to cover costs for the third annual Carmel Pride, which is expected to be held on a Sunday in June 2023.

“We’ll use that money to do things like hire queer performers in our area. We’ll use it to get materials for setup such as tables and chairs for people to use. We’ll use it to rent a stage for Carter Green where we have (the event annually), and print out fliers for the event,” said CHS senior Marielle Cortelyou, president of the Gender Sexuality Alliance at CHS.

The grant, part of the 50 States. 50 Grants. 5000 Voices initiative, was awarded by the It Gets Better Project, a nonprofit that aims to “uplift, empower, and connect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer youth around the globe,” according to its website. The It Gets Better Project awarded 50 grants in 40 states plus Washington, D.C., including in “many traditionally conservative areas,” its website states.

Grant funds came from American Eagle Outfitters through customer donations and in-store pin-pad promotions during Pride Month in 2021.

According to the It Gets Better website, the grants are to support “school-based projects empowering LGBTQ+ students.” Its website lists Carmel High School as the recipient for Indiana.

According to Emily Bauer, Carmel Clay Schools director of community relations, CHS students applied for and won the grant individually.

“CHS did not apply, nor receive, the grants directly,” Bauer stated, adding that Carmel Pride is not sponsored by CCS or CHS.

Cortelyou, who has helped coordinate Carmel Pride since it launched in 2020, said members of the event planning team were thrilled to learn they had received a grant, which she said they “didn’t expect to win.”

“Carmel Pride was started by high schoolers, and obviously high schoolers don’t have any large sums of money to put into an event like this,” Cortelyou said. “In years past, we’ve really relied on sponsorships and other things like that, and merchandise we sell to make back any money we had (spent), so I think it’s really going to help us to have the grant.”

According to the project website, other projects to receive grants through the program include “a gender-affirming closet to help trans students access clothing that fits their true selves” in Oakland, Calif.; remodeling of single-gender lavatories to become gender-neutral bathrooms at a school in Telluride, Colo.; and a regionwide Queer Youth Conference in south Texas.