A Community Vision: 2022 Fradkin Legacy Award Winners
By Matt Konrad
In 1958, an optometrist in Fall River, Mass., Dr. Irving Fradkin, had a simple but profound idea: if everyone in his community gave just a dollar to a scholarship fund, it would be enough to help every student in the community attend college. That idea blossomed into what is now Scholarship America, the nation’s largest provider of private scholarships.
Last year, in honor of the 100th anniversary of Dr. Fradkin’s birth, Scholarship America created Fradkin Legacy Award program: four national awards presented to four of our Dollars for Scholars, to recognize and expand their community-based scholarship work.
Earlier this month, Scholarship America’s Board Chair Tina Lee and Honor Roll Trustees Chair Pro-Tem Barbara McBee joined the November 10th Dollars for Scholars Connect session to congratulate the recipients of the 2022 Fradkin Legacy Awards.
$15,000 Student Support Award: Gettysburg Area Dollars for Scholars
Gettysburg Area Dollars for Scholars in Pennsylvania takes pride in providing scholarships to graduating seniors planning to attend any accredited postsecondary educational institution—not just four-year colleges and universities, but also trade and technical institutes, community and junior colleges. Last year, they earned an inaugural $2,500 Impactful Scholarship Fradkin Legacy Award, and followed it up in 2022 with the Student Support Award.
This award is designed to help Dollars for Scholars initiate or expand support beyond scholarships. Gettysburg Area Dollars for Scholars Vice President Laura Geesaman joined Dollars for Scholars Connect to talk about their plans for the award. “We are excited about funding some college-in-high-school classes that will give students a chance to try college level classes at their own high school,” Geesaman said. “We are going to be paying for the low income and free and reduced lunch students [to attend these classes] because, otherwise, they may not try college, but this gives them the opportunity to try it in their own high school with their own teachers and see if this is a path that they would like to expand further.”
To support this effort, Gettysburg Dollars for Scholars also plans to partner with a local community college and take a proactive role in communicating the opportunity, ensuring students in their district are informed about all their options for pursuing college classes at low or no cost while still in high school.
$10,000 Renewable Scholarship Award: Esperanza Scholarship Foundation Dollars for Scholars
For 23 years, Esperanza Scholarship Foundation Dollars for Scholars has helped students in California’s Inland Empire region, including San Bernardino County and eastern Los Angeles County. In addition to awarding up to 80 annual scholarships, Esperanza Scholarship Foundation partners with Toyota for an annual leadership and mentoring event, and has operated an internship program for the last nine years to allow district students to get real-world experience.
The Dollars for Scholars awards nine renewable scholarships each year, each of which are matched up to $1,000 by partner colleges in the region. They will be using their Renewable Scholarship Award funds to expand this program, adding more recipients and inviting several new partner institutions.
As marketing and grants director Barry C. Olsan said, “While the majority of our scholarships are $1,000 plus an additional $1,000 for those that attend one of our partner colleges, the Renewable Scholarship can increase the total scholarship awarded over 4 years from $2,000 to $8,750. This provides an opportunity to make a substantial impact on lowering student debt upon graduation.”
$2,500 Impactful Scholarship Awards: South Colonie Dollars for Scholars and Urbandale Dollars for Scholars
With college costs continuing to rise, it’s vital for our scholarships to keep pace. The $2,500 Impactful Scholarship Awards are intended to help Dollars for Scholars increase their scholarship amounts and give their recipients more flexibility and purchasing power with their awards.
New York’s South Colonie Dollars for Scholars is approaching its 20th year in operation; as Vice President Tami Sherry said, they’ve continued to watch and adjust to those cost increases. “CDFS is mindful of how much the cost of college attendance has continued to rise,” Sherry said. “Our total scholarships awarded have increased significantly over the past two decades as well. We are very proud to have grown from $2,000 in 2003, to $38,000 in 2022 to reach $500,000 given to Colonie Central High School students.”
The Dollars for Scholars intends to leverage their award as a way of encouraging expanded giving by donors and community partners, leading by example as they work to build even more impactful scholarships.
Similarly, Iowa’s Urbandale Dollars for Scholars plans to use their Impactful Scholarship Award funds as a catalyst for new gifts, matching and supplementing donations to bring scholarship awards up to the $1,000 level. The chapter has a long history of working closely with fellow nonprofits in their suburban Des Moines community, and secretary Sue Mears said they plan to continue those connections.
“A more impactful scholarship program will cover a higher portion of educational costs, alleviating the need for burdensome loans or working while attending college full time. The funds will be prioritized for applicants who establish a financial need and who plan to attend community college,” she said. “In the future, our Chapter would like to explore expanding awards to include high school students participating in the Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) Career Advantage Program with the goal of completing an Associates Degree (AD) simultaneous to their high school graduation.”
From impactful awards to renewable scholarships to student support, today’s Dollars for Scholars are carrying on the lasting, powerful legacy of our founder. We congratulate Gettysburg Area Dollars for Scholars, Esperanza Scholarship Foundation Dollars for Scholars, South Colonie Dollars for Scholars and Urbandale Dollars for Scholars—and we look forward to many more years of supporting community scholarship efforts through the Fradkin Legacy Awards!