NCCF announces scholarship for Hurricane Matthew victims

The North Carolina Community Foundation recently announced a new scholarship dedicated solely to students affected by Hurricane Matthew, taking the Foundation’s long-term approach to disaster relief and recovery to another level. 

Pictured is one scene from the devastation of Hurricane Matthew in eastern North Carolina."As we continue our work with local recovery groups and statewide partners still grappling with the aftermath of this nearly two-year-old disaster, we saw that the educational aspirations of many young people were also impacted," said NCCF Director of Grants and Scholarships Leslie Ann Jackson. The NCCF Disaster Relief & Resilience Scholarship was established to support students in some of the most severely affected areas of eastern North Carolina: Fair Bluff, Kinston, Lumberton, Princeville, Seven Springs and Windsor.

Up to $5,000 will be available for eligible students attending or planning to attend a two- or four-year institution of higher learning, with the maximum award covering four years. Consideration will be based on the severity of the impact of the disaster on applicants’ lives, their financial need and demonstrated resilience. Applications were due April 30, and a scholarship committee has been named to review and select recipients, who will be announced soon.

An essay component was included in the scholarship application so that the selection committee could get a sense of what obstacles the student had overcome and was still facing. A review of the essays saw many themes in common. Several students reported having to drive long distances to get to school, once classes finally resumed in their areas. The adjectives that peppered their narratives told of extreme sacrifices, a severe sense of loss and continued struggle. Several reported families that had experienced similar challenges in the aftermath of Hurricane Floyd, which also caused devastating floods nearly 20 years ago in 1999.  “Resiliency is not part of the scholarship’s name by accident,” said NCCF Grants and Scholarships Specialist Sybil Bowick. “We wanted to see a demonstrated sense of overcoming this adversity and also helping others,” she said.

While NCCF enjoys a niche in the administration of scholarships for our fundholders, this is the first time the Foundation has created and offered its own scholarship, and may be the only one in the state directed solely to Hurricane Matthew victims. “We are so proud to be able to offer this scholarship as part of our long-term approach to disaster relief grantmaking,” said NCCF CEO Jennifer Tolle Whiteside.

The Foundation has allocated about $660,000 in disaster relief grants since Hurricane Matthew and the devastating floods hit in October 2016.

By Noel McLaughlin

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