Changemakers - Sean Linkson
30 July 2012 at 10:32 am
Sean Linkson, Co-Founder and Executive Director of The Pinnacle Foundation, is profiled in Changemakers – a regular column which examines inspiring people and their careers in the Not for Profit sector.
The Pinnacle Foundation was started three years ago to provide scholarships and mentors to young people (16-24) who are disadvantaged or marginalised because of their sexuality or gender identity. There’s a whole generation of LGBTIQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Questioning) teenagers and young adults that really struggle to come to terms with who they are.
Many face horrific discrimination and abuse and are often ostracised by family and community. Self-harm and suicide is very prevalent among this group.
The Pinnacle Foundation provide financial support to fulfil educational and vocational aspirations and match each scholar with an experienced mentor, usually an expert in the student’s field of study.
In three years they’ve funded 25 Scholars and have provided nearly $140,000 in grants. They are a national Not for Profit run entirely by volunteers, with all except for one working in busy, full-time jobs.
What are you currently working on in the organisation?
At this time of year we have our major communication program in full swing – getting the message out to all corners of Australia, both city and rural, to tell young people that this kind of help is available.
We rely heavily on communicating through youth and community networks, as well as schools, universities, government agencies and our corporate partners. We’re busy organising events all over the country to introduce our work. We are thrilled at being supported by some big companies like Accenture, NAB and Freehills who see us playing a big part in their diversity initiatives. Nurturing these relationships is very rewarding but time consuming when relying on volunteers. Of course fundraising is the BIG job that never goes away. We rely purely on community donations so the effort needs to be constant.
What drew you to the Not for Profit sector?
As far as Pinnacle is concerned, that’s easy to answer – a desperate need in our community that was not being met.
How long have you been working in the Not for Profit sector?
All my involvement in NFPs has been part-time and remains so today. About eight years ago my partner and I got involved in The Hunger Project, in my view an organisation that offers the best chance we have of ending world hunger. Creating a sustainable future for the world’s most impoverished through the empowerment of women grabbed my head, heart and wallet! I sat on the NSW Development Board for THP until my Pinnacle obligations started to ramp up.
I’m always being asked …
“How do you hold down a full-time job and get time to run Pinnacle?” My answer is simple – Pinnacle’s board and volunteers are amazing, and we all share the load. Plus as long as I meet budget in my day job, the boss is happy.
School taught me …
How lucky I was to come from a supportive and loving family that valued education. So many young people don’t have that good fortune.