Contributing Author: Ann McCaffrey
Published: October 26, 2015
Triangle Community Center (TCC) awarded its largest scholarship in its 25-year history to Danilo Machado of Stamford. The award was made in recognition of his service to the LGBTQ community and for his many years’ worth of work for everyday equality.
Danilo Machado has worked as an activist and member of the local community, who recently spoke to a mission very familiar to TCC in his Op-Ed for the Advocate on immigration reform. Given the progress that has been made in the legal realm for LGBTQ individuals, particularly on marriage equality, it is important to be conscientious of how and why there is still much work to do. Every year, TCC’s scholarship seeks to award a scholar who strives to do that work.
A TCC scholarship fund was created for LGBTQ persons attending accredited technical, undergraduate, graduate, or vocational programs in Connecticut. This year was the first year TCC offered the scholarship in the amount of $2500. Recipients are determined based on academic accomplishments, leadership, and community service.
A senior at the University of Connecticut in Stamford, Machado has been actively involved in social justice organizations for many years. He serves on the coordinating committee for CT students for a DREAM, which is a statewide network of undocumented youth, families, and allies. He is a part of the national leadership for the Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project and acts as a member of the steering committee for Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement. Machado has had experience interning and consulting for Funders for LGBTQ Issues and as an intern at Lambda Legal. Machado has been involved in education and advocacy work through developing workshops, writing op-eds, and becoming involved in other organizations doing LGBTQ work including SPECTRUM at UCONN-Stamford.
Members of the TCC scholarship committee were proud to offer the $2500 scholarship to recognize a student whose advocacy work for the LGBTQ community is focused on the lived equality of undocumented individuals. Ashley McGuffie, a member of the scholarship committee and TCC board of directors, said, “TCC’s scholarship was created to make a difference in the lives of LGBTQ youth, and that’s exactly what it has done this year- not just by providing financial aid, but by showing support to someone who works so diligently to better the lives of those in our community who continue to face obstacles many of us have never had to face.” TCC works in solidarity with individuals like Danilo who lift up the voices that are sometimes the most difficult to hear.
Danilo is one of the estimated 267,000 LGBTQ undocumented immigrants living in the United States today. “Finding a queer space in the immigrant rights movement – and an immigrant space in the LGBTQ movement has been crucial for my development as an activist, scholar, and person,” says Danilo. While the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program allows undocumented immigrants like Danilo to receive work authorization and temporary relief from deportation, they are still not eligible for financial aid or insurance since the Affordable Care Act explicitly excludes undocumented immigrants from receiving insurance.
As a queer undocumented activist, Machado recognizes the unique and powerful opportunities there are for collaboration, leadership, and philanthropy. In 2012 a report from Funders for LGBTQ Issues, Pathway Forward, which Machado co-authored, found that foundations awarded more than $4.1 million for LGBTQ immigrant and refugee issues, which is up twenty fold in just one decade from barely $150,000 in 2002. The need for more awareness and recognition does not stop there. As Danilo explains, “90 percent of domestic LGBTQ immigration funding (2011-2012) went to national advocacy efforts, displaying a clear need for more funding for services and for state and local advocacy.” Danilo encourages activists to continue fighting battles on the state level and to push for expansion of administrative relief beyond the few who qualified for DACA.
This scholarship will help Danilo get through his final year at UCONN-Stamford and receive a diploma with a degree in English and a minor in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. While it is a great advantage that Connecticut state tuition policies have allowed Danilo to go to UCONN with in-state rates, there are still other necessary educational expenses that have been difficult to manage. In Danilo’s words, “The organizing of undocumented youth helped to ensure an in-state tuition policy for undocumented students to pay the in-state tuition rate in public schools in Connecticut in 2011. This policy has allowed me to go to UCONN-Stamford, but because undocumented students do not have access to federal or state aid, each semester has been a financial struggle. I am grateful for TCC and the other private and local organizations and scholarships who have supported my undergraduate career.”
Upon graduation, Danilo plans to continue to link his academic work with his community work and eventually pursue an advanced degree. To read Danilo’s Op-Ed in the Advocate, visit http://www.advocate.com/commentary/2014/08/04/op-ed-lgbt-students-who-need-your-help. If you would like to donate specifically to the scholarship fund, you can contact the committee at TCC@CTGay.org.