In a couple of weeks, the Sapienza Scholarship committee of the New Canaan Community Foundation will begin its annual scholarship award process. We have been convening since 2007 when Ann Sapienza, a longtime New Canaan resident, set up an endowed fund for New Canaan students who could not afford a college education. Over the month of May our dedicated committee of board members and town residents will meet weekly to review more than 60 applications for grants to help New Canaan students with college costs.
The applicants remain anonymous and the awards are need-based in nature. In addition to their financial needs, we learn about each student’s academic and athletic achievements, arts involvement, community service and job experience. These are impressive individuals. They are honor students, recognized athletes, leaders in their community service clubs, talented performers and artists. We learn about their struggles and we are encouraged by their efforts to overcome obstacles. We are inspired by their passions, their hopes and their dreams for the future. All of them are striving for what every one of us wants for our own children, the opportunity and the means to pursue their goals and attend college.
In 2007, the first Sapienza Scholarships assisted 10 New Canaan applicants with college expenses. Last year we supported 22 New Canaan High School graduating seniors and 36 returning college students with scholarships. With increasing tuition costs, decreasing Federal and State grant dollars and more New Canaan residents struggling financially, we are seeing increasing numbers of New Canaan students in need of financial assistance.
Like the New Canaan High School Scholarships, the Sapienza Scholarship awards help bridge the significant gap between what students have in family resources, personal earnings, grants and loans and the actual cost to attend college. Our awards range from $1,000 to $4,500 depending on the student’s level of need. We have found our scholarships typically cover about 10% of the gap. And while we are narrowing the gap, we have a long way to go to close it. It is frustrating to see such deserving students have to incur so much student debt.
The bequest that made this scholarship program possible is a perfect example of how a planned gift can have a lasting impact on our community. To date, the Sapienza Scholarship program has awarded over $1.7 million to hundreds of new and returning college students. We will continue to provide financial assistance to students in need and maybe this year, with your help, we can go a little further in narrowing the gap and decreasing student indebtedness.
We hope you will join us at the Color Run and participate in our first ever Scholarship Sunday fundraising campaign on April 28. Together New Canaan Community Foundation and NCHS Scholarship Foundation hope to raise an additional $20,000 for this year’s scholarships. These students deserve our wholehearted support.
To donate now through April 28 go here or Text to Give “06840″ to to 44321.
Board Member & Sapienza Scholarship Chair, New Canaan Community Foundation