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Scholarship Season

Late-Winter tends to be a slow period around Tuolumne County. At the Sonora Area Foundation however, it means that the most important work we do for our area students is in high gear – it’s the beginning of scholarship season!

Forty percent of the donor funds administered by the Foundation are scholarship funds, largely designated for graduating high school seniors and continuing students already at college. Scholarship awards serve a variety of purposes. From academics to athletics; agriculture to art, scholarship funds established at the Foundation support a broad range of career paths. In 2011, over $140,000 in new scholarship awards were made to Tuolumne County students.

Scholarships are awarded in accordance with procedures adopted by the Board of Directors of the Sonora Area Foundation and with selection criteria established for each scholarship fund. Program Manager Lin Freer administers the scholarship program for the Foundation and annually works with each school to identify the scholarships to be awarded. She also works with scholarship fund representatives to insure consistency of selection criteria and processes with the Board’s adopted procedures.

Of particular importance is the formation of selection committees charged with the evaluation of candidates for the scholarship awards. Selection committees must be objective and nondiscriminatory, and they cannot have a majority of members who may be considered to be “controlled” by the fund donor or the donor’s representatives. This insures compliance with scholarship fund requirements of the Internal Revenue Code.

During the month of May and after the selection process has been completed, the schools notify the Foundation of their scholarship recipients. The student’s contact information is entered into the Foundation’s data base and as the recipients inform the Foundation of their enrollments in their college or trade school, the scholarship checks are processed and sent. Scholarship awards may be used for expenses of tuition, lab fees, books, supplies, equipment, room and board, or other educational needs.

It is very rewarding to know that you have helped a valuable local resource – our young adults – advance and attain their educational goals. If you would like to help or to know more about our scholarship funds or any of the other donor funds maintained by the Foundation, do not hesitate to stop by my office, give me a call at 533-2596, or drop me an e-mail at