Scholarship Foundation Tops $4 Million with 50th awards
In October 1969, a newly established volunteer group in the city held a celebratory tea to present its first scholarships to local students. Five high school students in East Providence received a combined total of $1,750 in awards.
In August at Weaver Library, Scholarship Foundation of East Providence again distributed its annual awards. This time, 164 East Providence students shared a total of more than $186,000 in scholarship assistance. The event marked the 50thscholarship presentation by the all-volunteer organization. Scholarship Foundation of East Providence has provided more than $4 million in scholarships to more than 3,000 local students since its founding in 1968.
A lot has changed over the last five decades. The volunteer group was initially incorporated as a local chapter of a national organization. Until it became an independent non-profit organization in 2014, it was one of the oldest chapters of Scholarship America in the country. Scholarship Foundation of East Providence is a past recipient of the Golden Tassel Award, presented to the most outstanding scholarship chapter in the country. Selection was based on achievement, community impact, innovation and organizational strength.
“We used to provide scholarships only for graduating high school students,” notes Vice President Joan Kent. “But local funding sources are scarce for students already enrolled in college,” she adds. To address this gap and encourage completion of their degree or program, the local Foundation expanded eligibility to include all four years of undergraduate study. This year, 58 graduating high school seniors from 6 public, parochial and private schools, and 106 students enrolled in college, all East Providence residents, received scholarships.
Despite the changes over the years, the mission of the Scholarship Foundation remains the same – to expand access to educational opportunities for students who live in East Providence and pursue higher education. The group utilizes nationally standardized applications, evaluates candidates anonymously and administers scholarships, based on merit and financial need, to students who will be attending college, career or technical school.
“We are truly grateful for the tremendous support of our community,” states President Joe Durand.“More than 100 businesses, organizations, families and individuals sponsored this year’s awards,” he notes. The group also sponsors events, such as a community-wide phone-a-thon in March and a Holiday Breakfast the Saturday after Thanksgiving, to raise additional funds for scholarships and to ensure that each recipient is awarded a minimum of $1,100.
Businesses, local organizations, families or individuals who are interested in initiating a scholarship through Scholarship Foundation of East Providence can contact Joan Kent at 401-431-1675 or at P.O. Box 154438, East Providence, RI 02915.
President Joe Durand and Vice President Joan Kent welcome local residents to join the volunteer organization as a board member. Board members assist with scholarship application review and distribution, planning two annual fundraisers, and maintaining accurate records. In order to continue to provide scholarships to the students of East Providence it is critical for the board to maintain enough members to carry out board functions. More than 75 volunteers helped at this year’s community-wide phone-a-thon and more than 100 volunteers participated at last year’s Holiday Breakfast. “ We can always use more help as we plan the next 50 years,” they note. To learn more about helping Scholarship Foundation of East Providence and dates of upcoming meetings and events, visit www.sfofepri.orgor call Joan Kent at the phone number above.