: A local business looking to hire engineers set up a scholarship program to help bring more woman into the field. A 24-year-old started a modest scholarship, funded in part by walking the Appalachian Trail, to help students at her high school pursue college degrees. Anonymous donors endowed a two-year scholarship for community college students after being inspired by the generosity of a complete stranger.
These are just a few of the unique scholarships the Greater Lowell Community Foundation (GLCF) has helped benevolent individuals, groups and businesses set up over the years – all with the goal of giving back to their communities. “The Foundation manages about 400 scholarships per year,” said Jay Linnehan, GLCF President & CEO. “Education is a big part of our mission. It is, and always will be, a gateway to success.”
Scholarships can be as varied as the students they benefit, added Howard Amidon, GLCF’s Vice President of Philanthropy. And it’s his job to make donors’ wishes come true. “I work with individuals and businesses to support their philanthropic goals,” Amidon explained. That can mean helping donors who reach out to the Foundation with very specific plans for a scholarship. Or working closely with altruistic individuals who don’t always have all the details figured out. “Sometimes donors come in and say, ‘I want to do something good, but I don’t have anything specific in mind.’ In that case, we ask them, ‘What are your goals? What do you hope to accomplish?’ ”
Amidon is particularly excited about GLCF’s new Verda Annan Scholarship. It was established in honor of Verda Tetteh (pictured, now Verda Annan), then a 17-year-old Harvard-bound student who graduated from Fitchburg High School last June. At her graduation ceremony, Annan spontaneously declined the $40,000 FHS General Excellence Award she had just won. Instead, she asked the administration to pass on the award to a student – or students -- headed to community college who needed it more than she did.
After reading about Annan’s story, Amidon explained, a couple contacted GLCF with a unique request. “They wanted to emulate Verda’s generosity by establishing a two-year scholarship to help support graduating Lowell High School students go on to community college.” And, he added, the donors wanted to name the scholarship in honor of Annan, while they remained anonymous. Beginning this spring, the Verda Annan Scholarship will award $2,500 a year for two years to a qualified LHS student planning to attend any community college.
“These very generous people were inspired by someone they didn’t know, and saw that as a way to give back,” said GLCF President Linnehan. “They have succeeded because of their educations, and community colleges are very important to them. And, over time, as their endowment grows, this scholarship will grow, too.”
Annan, who changed her last name when she turned 18 to match her mother’s, was totally surprised when she learned about the prospect of an endowed scholarship established in her name. “My jaw dropped,” she said. “I’m so honored. When I initially gave up the FHS scholarship, I never imagined my actions would have a ripple effect. These donors went out of their way to be so generous and to help more students.”
Annan is also pleased the scholarship supports community college students. “When I was applying to colleges, there was a huge emphasis on being the ‘perfect’ student. We were advised that we needed to have a 4.0 GPA, be active in student government, in clubs, and play a sport. “But I understand that a good student who can be successful in college may not always check all those boxes,” she said. “And they may not have the resources to be engaged in those kinds of activities.”
With the help of a GLCF scholarship, local students can keep moving forward, said Linnehan. “It’s a privilege for the Foundation to help donors create scholarships to provide the resources these talented students need to continue their education.” To learn more about GLCF scholarships, visit: glcfoundation.org