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  • Writer's pictureGig Harbor Living Local

The Minerva Scholarship Fund

Updated: Nov 3, 2021

Local Scholarship Uplifts Women in Education

By Rachel Kelly | Photo by In-Gear Media

“I raise up my voice—not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard. … We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back.” - Malala Yousafzai

Here at home, and across the nation, and the globe, it is imperative that women have the ability to pursue their potential, but what does that actually look like? How do we support women as they discover their potential? The Minerva Scholarship Fund would say that it starts right here, in our community. It starts with local women from all walks of life having access to higher education. With gaps in between their academic ventures and limited financial resources, it can be harder for women to access the education they need to pursue their dreams and goals. This is where the Minerva Scholarship Fund can help.

“The privilege of receiving the (Minerva Scholarship) award will allow a 44-year-old single mother to help others in a professional capacity as a psychologist, as well as allowing myself and my son to escape the bonds of poverty and live a better life,” says Betsy Baker, a recent recipient of the Minerva Scholarship. Betsy sums up well just what’s so important about the Minerva Scholarship: Increasing female access to higher education changes lives. Women foster connections to their families and in their communities; they make bridges. The more they succeed, the healthier the communities that they live in become.

This year the Minerva Scholarship is celebrating 30 years. What began as three local women contributing $5,000 of their personal funds has expanded to a much larger venture. In the last two years the fund has allocated $50,000 to $60,000 in scholarships to eight to nine women per year. What’s more, women can reapply for subsequent years, meaning that women who earn the scholarship once can continue to earn it the following year as they succeed in their education. The Minerva Scholarship Fund is especially unique in that they are there for their awardees. The board sends letters of encouragement throughout the year, offering support for their success.

What’s more, the fund has a strong focus on sustainability. Through smart investment, local Gig Harbor women and their partners have created a fund that does not diminish. The scholarship fund has accumulated enough in the base fund that they are able to allocate scholarships from its earnings. This means that the fund will continue to exist and thrive long beyond its current participants. This does not, however, mean that fundraising is an unimportant aspect of the nonprofit! Fundraising shows local support, solidifies the sustainability of the fund, and grows the resources of the fund to the ever-increasing price and demands of higher education.Gig Harbor and Key Peninsula residents (and so many others) have continued to dedicate their funds toward creating opportunities for women, growing the base fund and its earnings.

Patty Nelson, the president of the Minerva Scholarship board and local educator of 25 years, put it best when she said that “Minerva is a local endeavor. A significant source of the scholarship funds is from individuals that recognize the value of supporting women who may not be able to pursue their education or career goals. Their achievements will impact their lives, the well-being of their family, and impact our local community.” This is not a fund that supports economies and people elsewhere, but here in our community. The Minerva Scholarship supports your neighbor, your mother, your sister, your grandmother, or your friend. It supports us.

“It is our honor and privilege to donate to the Minerva Scholarships. We donated in the memory of our dear friend who returned to school after an absence to receive her degree and enjoy a long career as a librarian, helping with children’s literary issues. We celebrate her courage, as well as want to support all women that will go out and make a difference,” says Tom and Kathy Chakerian. The same courage and strength that women lend our families in our lives is the same courage that is lent to our communities. Donations given are not just a monetary amount, they are a result of women who are making a difference. The Minerva Scholarship fund is a testament to the great love and sacrifice felt by our community from the women who have been our inspirational teachers and leaders.

This year scholarships have already been awarded for 2021-2022. But as we wrap up this year with our fall and winter celebrations, we look toward a new year. The Minerva Scholarship Fund will once again begin accepting their 2022-2023 applications at the first of the new year, with a final due date in April and an allocation of funds in the spring. For more information on how you can participate, please visit Donations can be sent to: Minerva Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 2705, Gig Harbor, WA 98335.

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