Dollars for Scholars: more than 50 years of giving
November 28, 2012
When Joan Alheim was graduating from Schuylerville
High School in 1956, she received a scholarship from the district’s
Dollars for Scholars organization. Today, she and a small group of
committed volunteers carry on the tradition of giving, awarding
scholarships to deserving seniors.
Originally called Schuylerville Community Scholarship Program, Schuylerville’s Dollars for Scholars program started in 1954. In the first years of operation, the organization awarded a few thousand dollars worth of scholarships. Last year, more than $18,000 was given out to help support graduates as they pursued their college dreams—quite an accomplishment from the seven to nine regular volunteers who work tirelessly to organize fundraisers, collect donations and review students’ scholarship applications.
“This is a community effort and I want to make sure today’s students are able to benefit in the same way that I did when I was graduating,” Alheim said.
Alheim is the Dollars for Scholars treasurer, while Lisa Schwartz (grade 5 teacher) is president and Susan Burkett (parent) is the group’s secretary. Retired school staff members often volunteer for activities.
Schuylerville Dollars for Scholars is the local chapter of a national, not-for-profit organization that develops funds and awards scholarships. This affiliation allows Schuylerville’s local chapter to form “collegiate partnerships” with hundreds of colleges that have agreed to match Dollars for Scholars awards.
“This is one of the big advantages of establishing scholarships through Schuylerville Dollars for Scholars,” Schwartz said. “Students who are going on to partner colleges can double their financial awards.”
The altruism of local community members helps
Dollars for Scholars continue its tradition of giving. “We send out
letters every year to ask for donations,” Alheim explained. “Our
neighbors have been extremely generous. They like the idea that the
money stays right in Schuylerville to support our graduating seniors.”
Alheim also credits the thoughtfulness of local resident Jim Harris, who established an annuity for the organization with the proceeds from the sale of the Masonic temple building in the village. Harris passed away last year, but remains well-known for his support.
Dollars for Scholars also holds fundraising events throughout the year, including a 50-50 raffle at the first home basketball game, a chicken barbecue, ice cream social and sale of Great Escape ticket packages. Each class also participates in a “pennies” fundraiser as students move through the Elementary School. The pennies collected for each class are totaled, put into a bank CD and then distributed as scholarships when the class graduates.
Schuylerville’s Dollars for Scholars scholarships
are awarded based on a number of factors, including financial need,
community service and leadership activities, academic achievement and
recommendation letters. Some scholarships have specific requirements—for
example, a student may have to be the child of a firefighter or majoring
in a certain career area.
“Typically, everyone who applies gets some type of award, so we encourage all seniors to fill out the application,” Schwartz said.
Around 35 students usually apply, but the volunteers would like to have more. “It’s a lengthy application, but it’s worth the effort,” Alheim said.
All the applications are rendered anonymous before review and ranking by the volunteers.
For more information on the Dollars for Scholars funds available, please contact Lisa Schwartz in the Elementary School or stop by the Student Services Center.