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'Legacy' scholarship deadlines quickly approaching
by Garrett E. Valenzuela
Feb 07, 2014 | 985 views | 0 0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Contributed photo -- Diane Olds was a 30-year educator in Washoe County School District and her legacy lives on through a scholarship for underprivileged students seeking a career in education who attend or graduated from Reed, Sparks or Hug High schools.
Contributed photo -- Diane Olds was a 30-year educator in Washoe County School District and her legacy lives on through a scholarship for underprivileged students seeking a career in education who attend or graduated from Reed, Sparks or Hug High schools.
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February is a crucial month for college-bound high school seniors, and students looking to continue their path in secondary education, as deadlines for scholarship applications are fast approaching.

The Community Foundation of Northern Nevada (CFNN) has more than 30 scholarships available for students in the region, which are primarily set up by members of the community, hoping to influence students and children pursuing various education opportunities. Dani Lutzow, program officer for CFNN, said the most difficult challenge for CFNN when it comes to scholarships is making them known to students.

“It seems we can’t throw money at these students sometimes, as much as I want to,” Lutzow said about spreading awareness of the scholarships. “I wish every student was able to know about these scholarships and apply to them because we have so many that will help these students with books and tuition, and almost anything to help them reach their educational goals.”

All but a few scholarships offered by the CFNN must be applied to by Feb. 28, and one scholarship set up for students at Sparks, Reed and Hug High schools holds a legacy in Washoe County. The Diane Olds Memorial Scholarship, honoring the 30-year teacher in Washoe County School District, is for female students seeking a career in education. Olds died in 2008 and the scholarship is a way for her “commitment to the education of all children, and most especially to poor and underprivileged children” to live on, according to Lutzow.

The scholarship also applies to to graduates of Reed, Sparks or Hug High schools who are working through college for a career in education.

“We have an account set up for women in engineering that was created by the family of the first woman engineer. Those accounts create a legacy that can be passed on to our children,” Lutzow said. “These people seek out and reward the people who are going to do great things. There are so many unique ideas and desires and we try to help people flesh it out.”

Lutzow said every scholarship varies in its requirements and many have very specific students who must apply. She applauded high school counselors for their work because the caseloads taken on daily at high schools can be overbearing.

“The ideas and accounts do take a couple of years to gain traction, and the traction is two-fold,” she said. “On one side we try to get the schools and the school counselors to find students for some of the specific criteria. The other side is the families being overwhelmed in the first year of the scholarship because they have never seen anything like this before.

“Once the families read the essays and have a better idea what the scholarship should be about, they start to really fine-tune the criteria. Then these students show up and it is so touching for these families and it is amazing to see.”

A few other notable CFNN scholarships for Washoe County School District students include:

- Orville Belding Memorial Scholarship (student-athletes born and raised in Nevada)

- Peggy Bowker Memorial Scholarship (women pursuing engineering at UNR)

- CJ Jones Memorial Scholarship (students of AACT High School)

- Kennedy Foundation Scholarship (students accepted to one of 20 top US universities)

- Read With Me Preschool Scholarship (preschool scholarships to at least two early readers).

The CFNN manages scholarship opportunities and donation funds throughout northern Nevada, including the recent Sparks Middle School Compassion Fund. Lutzow said her biggest hope is that students will not put off filling out scholarship applications, requesting letters of recommendation and gathering the proper materials until the “last minute.”

“We are offering more than 30 (scholarships) and who knows how many others are out there for students,” she said. “I tracked our applications last year and about 75 percent of them came in during the final deadline week, and we had about 300 applications total.”

Lutzow said a few more scholarships are currently being developed at the CFNN and she said there will likely never be a shortage in those opportunities.

“Honestly, I have to say we wouldn't be as good at what we do if it wasn't for the community and the people in the community who come to the table,” she said. “We have done funds for tragedies before and created scholarships, but if it weren't for the unique perspectives and people who come to us, it wouldn’t be possible. They bring something to the table we just can't do.

“I really think that is what makes it great and unique is being able to sit around a table with people who genuinely care and have so much to talk about. We can’t be experts because we have so much to learn from these people.”

For more information on scholarships available from the Community Foundation of Northern Nevada, and a few tips and tricks on applying, visit www.nevadafund.org.
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