“I had a visit with various groups on campus to talk about the situation and find out what resources students have access to when they become homeless,” she said. She learned that Oregon State’s Pride Center often serves as a place where LGBTQ+ students first come to for help. The Basic Needs Center connects students experiencing food, housing or other financial hardships to resources like food pantries, emergency housing and free textbook lending programs. Yet there is sometimes a gap of time between when a student first experiences challenges and when they find the help they need.
"I want people to know that there is a need and they can make a difference."
“It became clear that setting up some kind of emergency fund to tide them over from the time they first become homeless until resources at the university can help would be really beneficial,” said Faucett.
Thus, the Leonardo Fund was born. Named after the polymath artist, inventor and renaissance thinker Leonardo da Vinci, the fund provides emergency aid to LGBTQ+ students in the College of Science who experience sudden, extreme circumstances or life events.
Many experts believe that Leonardo da Vinci was likely gay. This inspired Faucett to name the fund after him. “It’s for kids who are a little bit different because Leonardo was really different and very special,” she said.
“What’s been so great about Oregon State is I’m finally able to be me.”
One of the things Faucett does whenever she comes on campus is meet with students. Right when the idea of the Leonardo Fund was forming, she happened to meet with a small group of College of Science students who participated in the SURE Science program – another fund Faucett supports. At the end of the discussion, Faucett asked, What has been the best thing about being at OSU? One trans male student replied, “What’s been so great about Oregon State is I’m finally able to be me.”
“What a great, great story about how far the university has come. It’s just such a warm and welcoming environment,” said Faucett. “He’d only known me for 45 minutes, but this is a safe environment and the students know it. I applaud that, and I’m happy to support it.”
Faucett hopes others will be inspired by this fund and support it as well or create similar scholarships to support students experiencing homelessness, members of the LGBTQ+ community or any other minority group that is in need outside the College of Science.
“I don’t give to be recognized, but when I heard stories about the LGBTQ+ community, I realized this is a fund I want people to know about. I want people to know that there is a need and they can make a difference,” she said.