Since its founding on October 14th, 1919, The Winston-Salem Foundation has been breaking ground and changing lives in our community. Today, the organization is known for helping community leaders, nonprofits, and local citizens, such as teachers, with grants and support, as well as providing scholarships to students of all ages wanting to further their education. These efforts have been developed through the years and have become influential parts of the Foundation’s history. With their centennial celebration occurring throughout this year, the organization is also celebrating where they’ll go in the future.
“The concept for the Foundation came from the Cleveland Foundation, which was started in 1914. Since then, we are fortunate to have benefitted from generations of philanthropy. Right now, our job is to be the best stewards and complement the work that we have been doing for the past 100 years,” said Scott Wierman, President of The Winston-Salem Foundation.
Currently, the foundation is focusing on transportation and racial equity initiatives. “Racial equity and equity in education are two major issues,” stated Wierman. “Our goal is to create a more inclusive community, as well as helping to provide the best education and possible outcomes for all children in Winston-Salem.”
One way The Winston-Salem Foundation is working towards accomplishing those goals is through the student aid and scholarship program. This initiative awards scholarships to students of all ages who are interested in furthering their education. According to The Foundation’s website, over 500 students receive funds each year through over 125 scholarship funds. To apply, all you need to do is visit wsfoundation.org/scholarships. From there, students will fill out a “One-Stop Scholarship Application,” which will populate the various scholarships students are eligible for. Daisy Rodriguez, Director of Student Aid, has only been with the Foundation for a year, but has quickly come to see the huge impact the program makes.
“We want to give as many scholarships as possible to students, both traditional and nontraditional. The oldest student we have had was 63 years old! These scholarships make a big impact on the recipients, no matter what their age. Also, in order to be a happy and healthy community, it is important for our residents to be educated, who then can grow and develop a prosperous workforce,” Rodriguez commented.
The scholarships include merit- and financial-need-based funds to students attending a four-year university or a community college. Need-based awards are granted on a first-come, first-serve basis. Applications for the 2020–2021 school year will be accepted starting on December 15th, 2019. To be considered, students do not yet need to know which school they are attending. However, keep in mind, they do need to be committed to a certain school to receive a scholarship. This past school year, 615 awards were given to 534 students, equaling over one million dollars.
The benefits of the student aid and scholarship program can have a monumental impact on a person, and Rodriguez has seen just that for herself. “My younger daughter was a scholarship recipient, making my experience come full circle,” said Rodriguez. “As a mother, first-generation college student, and former educator, I know the importance of higher education. I’m always surprised by the care and compassion people have for this program.”
Adding to Rodriguez’s comment, Wierman stated that many people are looking to do good deeds to help build a better community. The student aid and scholarship program makes a difference for donors in the community, but it makes the most difference in the lives of the students, as one scholarship recipient once said:
“I would just like to give you my gratitude and say thank you for the scholarship! This scholarship means the world to me, because I am a first-generation student who truly needs this opportunity. You will not regret the investment you have made in me.”
For more information about The Winston-Salem Foundation, visit wsfoundation.org.