$223,550 Awarded in Scholarships

Posted on June 18, 2019

The Community Foundation of St. Clair County recently approved $223,550 in traditional scholarships for the upcoming 2019/2020 school year.  Of the 76 individual recipients, 32 percent are returning college students.

“These traditional scholarship awards are only one aspect of the Foundation’s multi-program approach to college, career and life success,” said Mike Cansfield, Board Chair for the Community Foundation. He added, “We’ve moved well beyond one-time scholarships for graduating seniors. We focus on student success through our Complete Your Degree program, attracting talent through our Come Home Award and supporting those individuals pursuing skilled trades or other certification programs.” 

Recipients are graduates of 12 area high schools and will be attending college across the state, as well as Columbia University, Loyola University Chicago, University of Alabama, Savannah College of Art and Design, and Southern Utah University. 

Natalie Keith, a senior studying mechanical engineering at Lawrence Technological University, has been a scholarship recipient the past four years.  This year she received $11,000 from the James Wilhelm Memorial Scholarship Fund, Howard A. Acheson Memorial Fund and Charles & Berneice Uligian Fund.

“I am so thankful to have been supported by the Foundation throughout my college career,” Keith said. “I cannot thank everyone that is involved enough. I can personally say that the people involved in the Foundation have changed my life.”

Keith is a first generation college student who, when starting back in 2016 after graduating from Yale High School, knew nothing about the application process or what college would entail. She used to think her chances of receiving a higher education were “slim to none.” Having no college experience themselves, her parents play a major role in helping her achieve her goals.

“My parents were with me each step of the way,” Keith said. “Although finances were hard to come by, my parents worked endlessly to help me gain financial assistance to be able to follow my dreams. Each accomplishment or milestone that is passed is a celebration.”

In addition to scholarships, Keith also works three part-time jobs throughout the school year to help her pay for college, including as an engineering co-op currently at Ford Motor Company. She will graduate in May 2020 and hopes to work in the automotive industry.

The Community Foundation and many of its donors focus on supporting students beyond the first year of college. Keith is just one example. This year, the James Wilhelm Memorial Scholarship Fund awarded five academic scholarships for scholar-athletes and three of the five awards went to prior recipients.

“Since we started our scholarship fund in memory of my son, James, it’s become increasingly clear how important it is to support a student’s success through all of their college going years,” said Dr. Daniel Wilhelm.

Last year the Community Foundation started tracking the progress of their traditional scholarship recipients. The Foundation reached out to 152 recipients who graduated high school between 2013 and 2015. Of the 65 who responded, 92 percent have graduated with at least an associate degree with most earning a bachelor’s within four years. Most of the students without a degree are still in college.

The Community Foundation supports college, career and life success through multiple programs. In addition to traditional scholarships, more than 35 students receive multi-year support at SC4 through the Community Foundation’s Complete Your Degree program with about $160,000 projected in student support for 2019. Skilled trades and certification programs are also supported through the ASSET program at the Economic Development Alliance of St. Clair County.

View all 2019 recipients.

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