By Claire Byun
Warren Easton Charter High School is once again collecting donations for its annual scholarship fund, and this year the school’s Foundation pulled in a big donor.
Sandra Bullock, actress and New Orleans philanthropist, has agreed to match scholarship donations up to $50,000, Warren Easton board member Billy Hatchett said.
This board is aiming for $100,000 in donations this year and has already wrangled about $11,000. Regina Wilkins, director of development at Warren Easton, encouraged everyone to donate and ask their friends to pitch.
With donated funds and money from the famous actress, $100,00 is a reasonable goal, she said.
“So that’s very good news,” Wilkins said.
Scholarships are put toward the student’s initial year at his or her college of choice. Unlike many other scholarship programs, funds are meant as “seed money” rather than tuition help because many Warren Easton students need help simply getting to college.
“What we’ve found is that once students are there, they usually find resources to stay there,” David Garland, board chair, said. “Our students just need money for housing, for food, for transportation during their first year.”
Garland said many students want to go to college but simply cannot afford basic housing costs, money for books or groceries. When students are given a few thousand dollars to help them get a jump on resources, they’re given the opportunity to succeed.
The application process is open and board members are planning to interview prospective recipients in early April. Interviews usually take two days, but that’s dependent on how many students apply.
About 60 students apply each year and school officials gave out 35 scholarships last year. Scholarships are based on a mix of scholastic achievement, written and oral presentations and need-based criteria. Either $5,000 or $2,500 scholarships are awarded based on donor’s preference.
“It’s quite unique and it works for our student body, specifically,” Garland said.
David Benelli, board and Hall of Fame committee member, said applicants share some of the same feelings of family, commitment and WHAT during their interviews every year. He encouraged all board members to volunteer to sit on a panel “to feel good for a little bit.”
“It’s astonishing some of the stories they tell, and such great spirits these kids have,” Benelli said.
To donate to the Hall of Fame scholarship fund, visit Warren Easton’s website.