Union membership provides scholarship opportunities
By DEBORAH A. MILES
Certain scholarships that pay big bucks can only be obtained if a parent belongs to a union. This is just another benefit enjoyed by PEF members who seek to curb the high cost of college tuition not only through PEF’s Joseph Scacalossi Scholarship, but through other union scholarships. And now is the time to mark your calendars, so you won’t miss the deadlines.
The Scacalossi Scholarship has played a pivotal role for 30 years by assisting members to meet the financial demands associated with a college education. Each year, the scholarship is awarded to 10 students and each receives $1,000 annually for four years.
This scholarship, named after a union activist who fought for the rights of his union co-workers at the state Department of Labor in Manhattan, is open to high school seniors and college freshmen. It is judged on the student’s academic achievements and community involvement. Those selected have demonstrated that hard work and a good heart pays off.
To apply, students must submit a preliminary application by March 16. It will be reviewed by PEF’s Scholarship Committee, chaired by Sheila Ambrose, a PEF steward and medical assistance specialist at the state Department of Health. Those selected will receive a final application that must be completed and returned to PEF headquarters by April 27.
The preliminary application is available at www.pef.org. Click on “About” and scroll down to “Scholarships.”
Members also should check with their regional coordinators and council leaders to find out what local scholarships are available.
The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) offers a Robert G. Porter Scholars Program consisting of four 4-year, $8,000 post-secondary scholarships to students who are dependents of AFT members. The scholarship is paid out through four $2,000 annual payments to the recipient or higher education institution. It must be used within six years of the date the award is made. After the first year, recipients must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.75 and show satisfactory progress toward a degree.
AFT also offers 10 one-time $1,000 grants to union members to assist with their continuing education, or to fund their proposed ideas to strengthen and grow their union. Grant eligibility requires being a union member in good standing for at least one year. Awards are based on the member’s ideas for reclaiming the promise of a just society for all in a written essay, along with an implementation strategy.
Porter was the secretary-treasurer of AFT from 1963 to 1991. The $8,000 scholarships are awarded to accomplished high school students who show outstanding service in their community and an understanding of the role unions can play to create a more just society. Porter was a union activist who dedicated his life to championing the rights of working people, promoting civil rights and ensuring that the union was a vehicle for fostering the professionalism of its members.
To apply, go to https://www.aft.org/member-benefits/scholarships and complete the online application before March 31. All winners will be notified by June 30.
The Union Plus Scholarship Program has awarded more than $4.2 million to students of more than 2,800 working families. The scholarship is offered through the Union Plus Education Foundation and is supported in part by contributions from the provider of the Union Plus Credit Card. You do not need to be a Union Plus Credit card holder to apply for this scholarship.
The scholarship awards range from $500 to $4,000. These one-time cash awards are for study beginning in the fall of 2018. Students may re-apply each year.
Applicants are evaluated in this competitive scholarship on academic ability, social awareness, financial need and appreciation of labor. A GPA of 3.0 or higher is recommended. The required essays can account for up to half of your total score. The applicants are judged by a committee of impartial post-secondary educators.
The deadline is January 31.
Union Plus also has unveiled a new scholarship called Isaiah’s Award, to honor the life of an exceptional child who was fostered and adopted by a current long-time employee of Union Plus. Applicants must have a special connection to the foster care system and must describe their personal, professional or volunteer experiences related to the foster care system.
Applications for all Union Plus Scholarships can be found at https://www.unionplus.org/benefits/money/union-plus-scholarships. Recipients of the award will be notified individually by mail during the first week in June.
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