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Disability, Sport Recreation

From University to Para Triathlete World champion – Anu Francis, Professional Para Triathlete, among the many Pinnacle Foundation program beneficiaries.

Pinnacle Foundation 3 mins read

The Pinnacle Foundation celebrates 15-year anniversary and 100+ annual scholarships, as 2025 applications open until 31 August.  

Sydney/Melbourne, Australia, 4 July 2024 The Pinnacle Foundation, Australian LGBTQIA+ education charity, is celebrating a dual milestone this year. The foundation has reached a remarkable achievement, awarding over 100 scholarships to deserving and eligible queer youth pursuing fulltime education at TAFE or University, around Australia. Pinnacle has been instrumental in transforming the lives of its scholars by supporting their wellbeing, providing them a sense of community, and helping them realise their true potential.  Alongside this milestone, Pinnacle is also celebrating its 15-year anniversary. 

Since being founded in 2007, the foundation has made significant contributions in supporting education and fostering success among young LGBTQIA+ Australians, creating a more diverse and inclusive society. 

Among the many Pinnacle beneficiaries from the last 15 years is Anu Francis (she/her), a professional triathlete who made her international debut in 2022, claiming Silver at World Triathlon Para Series (WTPS) Swansea (Wales), winning the Portugal Para World Cup, and brining home bronze at her first World Championships in Abu Dhabi. In 2023, she became the Paris Paralympic Test Event Champion, placed second at World Championships, and gained a #2 World Ranking.  

So far in 2024, she has become three-time Oceania Champion, placed second at World Triathlon Para Series Yokohama (Japan), and won World Triathlon Para Series Devonport (Tasmania). Anu has climbed to 2nd place in the Paris Paralympic Qualification Rankings, which has secured her automatic selection to the Australian Paralympic Team for the upcoming 2024 Paris Paralympic Games in September. 

Anu Francis, Professional Para Triathlete, Pinnacle alumnus, shares her experience, “I was lucky enough to be awarded the Pippa Downes Pinnacle Scholarship. Receiving the Pinnacle scholarship changed my life, I have gained incredible bonds that I hope will last a lifetime, as well as more confidence and value for myself.”  

The Pinnacle Foundation’s commitment extends beyond financial scholarships. Pinnacle carefully matches the young Australians it awards scholarships to with a mentor who identifies in the same way and who works in their field of study to provide career guidance and help them excel in their studies. 

“Besides the financial element, it’s the mentorship program that has helped me tremendously through my journey. The Pinnacle Foundation found me the most incredible mentor who met all three factors – sharing my gender and sexual orientation, working in my area of study, and living in the same state as me – that I mentioned in my interview, which was surprising. My experience with my mentor has been wonderful and has added so much value,” added Anu. 

“My advice to anyone thinking to apply for the program is to go ahead and do it. I didn’t realise how much I needed the scholarship until I got it.”  

Pinnacle’s CEO & MD, Andrew Staite, says, “15 years ago, The Pinnacle Foundation embarked on a journey to transform lives with our educational scholarships and mentoring program, and provide a sense of belonging by creating a community and family for life. Over the years, with the help of our generous donors and partners, the Foundation has acted as a launchpad for many young Australians who have benefitted from the program. Today we celebrate the resilience, determination, and unwavering spirit of our scholarship recipients.” 

“With scholarship applications open until 31 August, we’re looking forward to seeing the submissions of the next generation of young LGBTQIA+ Australians”, says Andrew. 

Some of the country’s largest organisations have named scholarships with The Pinnacle Foundation including L’Oreal, BHP, CBA, Mirvac, Rio Tinto and Virtus Health.   

Scholarship application details  

The scholarship program, now in its fifteenth year, awards multi-year scholarships nationally to students aged between 18 – 26 years for fulltime study. Scholars can be pursuing a range of different course from either public TAFES or public Universities in Australia. Every Pinnacle scholar is also carefully matched with a mentor who will typically identify in the same way and share the same academic and professional interests. The mentor acts as a role model.  

Scholarship application submissions are open from Monday, 1 July 2024 and close on Saturday, 31 August 2024. Eligible LGBTQIA+ candidates can find further information and submit their applications online.  

For more information about The Pinnacle Foundation's scholarship program and research, please visit    

About us:

Founded in 2007, The Pinnacle Foundation is Australia’s LGBTQIA+ education charity. With a vision for a more diverse and inclusive society with visible LGBTQIA+ role models, The Pinnacle Foundation’s flagship program provides educational scholarships, mentoring and opportunities to young LGBTQIA+ Australians to realise their full potential.  


Additionally, The Pinnacle Foundation is allied with The University of Sydney Business School to deliver the LGBTQIA+ Executive Fellowship: LGBTQIA+ Executive Fellowship - The University of Sydney Business School. The Fellowship, the first of its kind in the Asia Pacific region, develops senior and executive leadership capabilities within the LGBTQIA+ community. 

Contact details:


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