GREATER WESTFIELD-As the school year winds down, thoughts of scholarships are on the minds of students across the area, and through the generosity of businesses, families and individuals, many will once again be the beneficiary of those needed funds.
“The economy was strong last year which was reflective in our donors’ generosity,” said Cynthia Neary, who serves as president of the CSF Westfield Dollars for Scholars program. She is assisted by 16 board of director members and several volunteers who also offer assistance throughout the year.
Neary noted that fortunately for the chapter, the application timeframe was Feb. 1-March 15 which allowed students to complete their online applications before the COVID-19 pandemic struck the area.
“The dates we selected were very fortuitous,” said Neary. “We are now in the process of scoring the applications and we will select recipients the same way we always have for almost 60 years.”
Neary said the board expects to grant approximately $146,000 in scholarships to more than 100 students who reside in the city this spring.
“Since the pandemic and with the stock market taking a downturn, we decided to be very cautious with our endowment scholarships in particular,” said Neary.
Traditionally, an awards night ceremony is conducted in May to distribute scholarships.
“We will not have an official scholarship awards night ceremony this year,” said Neary. “The safety of our community citizens is paramount now and in the immediate future.”
Neary noted that even if schools resume classes, she understands why city residents would be reluctant to attend a large gathering.
“We were proactive and made the decision to cancel this large gathering for our community citizens,” she said. “I’m pleased with the amount of money we are awarding and delighted for the students who will receive the scholarships. I’m disappointed that the ceremony for our donors presenting personally to the students and families will not take place but we have to adapt to our current situation.”
Students receiving scholarships will receive a letter of congratulations and the scholarship check will be mailed during the summer.
For persons interested in joining the board of directors, contact Neary at (413) 568-2103.
“We welcome anyone’s help, either by joining the board or helping in a specific way,” said Neary.
Donations are always graciously welcomed and checks may be made out to the CSF Westfield Dollars for Scholars and mailed to CSF Westfield Dollars for Scholars, P.O. Box 382, Westfield MA 01086.
“We have given more than 6,000 scholarships since we were established in 1962,” said Neary, noting the original name of the organization was the Citizens Scholarship Foundation (CSF).
“Families are always extraordinarily grateful that our donors are so generous,” said Neary, adding that 98% of all of the money donated benefits city students – including full-time college students who reside in Westfield. “Our expenses are minimal – postage and bond insurance – because of the tireless efforts of our volunteers to make this happen each year.”
For more information, visit csfwestfield.dollarsforscholars.org.
“I hope we will get back to our regular ceremonies in May 2021,” said Neary.
For students in the Granville and Tolland region, the deadline is May 1 to submit an application for the Granville-Tolland Dollars for Scholars program.
“The amount of money given out depends on the number of applicants, but in the past we’ve awarded around $20,000 to $25,000 with an average award of $1,000 per student,” said Lee Fluhr, president of the organization. “We are still accepting and reviewing applications for this year. Every qualified student who submits a completed application receives an award.”
All application requirements can be found on the organization’s Facebook page as well as at its website, granville-tolland.dollarsforscholars.org.
Fluhr explained that Granville-Tolland DFS has not conducted a private ceremony in the past, and instead, distributes awards at the school’s annual ceremonies.
“If there is no in-person ceremony, recipients will be notified via email and a letter sent to their home,” said Fluhr. “This is also how we have notified recipients who are no longer in high school, since it is open to undergraduate students as well.”
Fluhr added that this spring, 22 recipients have received their second semester award.
For persons needing more information about the scholarships, send an email to [email protected] or visit the website.
In Southwick, the board of directors for Southwick Dollars For Scholars are still processing applications which were accepted from Feb. 15-March 31, according to Lisa Hough, president.
“The annual ceremony has been postponed at this time,” said Hough, adding the organization is still determining how much money can be distributed this spring.
Donations are welcomed and for more information, visit southwick.dollarsforscholars.org or send an email to [email protected]. Checks can also be mailed to Southwick Dollars for Scholars, P.O. Box 838, Southwick, MA 01077.
As a way to raise funds this spring, the organization is sponsoring a “front porch picture session” with proceeds to benefit scholarships for high school seniors.
“It is a fun fundraiser to help the students in our small community,” said Hough, noting that the organization’s volunteers will be taking the photographs.
Hough added a “suggested donation” of $20 is for two pictures – 8” x 10” or 5” x 7” – and two poses – with the photographs mailed to your home.
To participate in the fundraiser, email your telephone number to [email protected] to set up a time for the photo session that is convenient for your schedule. A short form will be provided to complete and to leave in your mailbox with cash or a check made payable to Southwick Dollars for Scholars.