Ellen DeGeneres donates $25K to scholarship fund for gay high school valedictorian kicked out by his parents

Talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres this week donated $25,000 to a scholarship fund for a gay valedictorian whose story went viral this summer after his parents forced him out of their home.

DeGeneres awarded the money to Seth Owen after the 18-year-old made an appearance on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” on Monday, according to NBC.


The donation from DeGeneres comes after a GoFundMe campaign with the goal of helping Owen pay for college raised more than $140,000.

The funds have proven unnecessary, however, as Georgetown University offered Owen, who graduated from First Coast High School in Jacksonville, Fla., a full-ride scholarship in early August.

Owen said he now plans to use the money to create a scholarship fund for other students.

“We’re partnering again this year with Cheerios to encourage one million acts of good, and they're inspired by young people like you,” DeGeneres told Owen on the show. “They're going to help you start your scholarship with this check for $25,000.”

“There’s no way!” Owen replied. “Thank you so much.”

During the show, Owen detailed his experiences with his family after he came out as gay. He said that after his parents discovered his sexuality, they sent him to a “religious conversion therapy” program. 

Owen says his parents later forced him out of his home during his senior year in high school after he asked them to allow him to stop attending their church over teachings and rhetoric he said were anti-LGBTQ. 

Owen told NBC that his dream of attending Georgetown for college was put in jeopardy because of this. 

A GoFundMe campaign set up by a former teacher has accumulated more than $140,000 in about two months. Owen has said that he will use some of the funds cover additional expenses while attending the Washington, D.C., college. 

“It’s amazing. I absolutely love it,” Owen, who recently started his freshman year, said. “I would not want to be anywhere else but Georgetown.”