407 Local Students Awarded $1.30 Million in Scholarships from Community Foundation of Sarasota County

Categories: EMPOWERMENT AND SUCCESS: Scholarship Opportunities, SCHOLARSHIPS: Students Under 24 Years of Age, Students,

Scholarships support future academic and professional success, provide opportunities amidst COVID-19 pandemic.

SARASOTA, FL – In a year when graduation ceremonies and cap and gown photos transitioned to drive-thru parades and virtual commencements, so too changed scholarship announcements. As part of awarding more than $1,304,230 to 407 students in May, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County turned to surprise scholarship announcements, leveraging creative, digital solutions from Zoom calls to hand-delivered personal plaques and yard signs to provide memorable experiences for all award recipients.

This was the case for the five recipients of this year’s Lela D. Jackson Foundation Scholarship, a 4-year, $50,000 scholarship, and the recipient of the Bogner Family Scholarship, a 4-year, $100,000 scholarship. Semi-finalists were invited to participate in Zoom interviews with the volunteer Scholarship Committee, and winners and committee members were given the chance to celebrate together with tears and smiles over Zoom award calls for the first time in program history.

Recipients of this year’s Father Connie Dougherty Memorial Scholarship, a meaningful scholarship in the Sarasota Community for over 40 years, also were recognized digitally. Personal phone calls from committee members and hand-delivered commemorative plaques, yard signs, and programs complimented the first ever virtual Zoom Award Ceremony, during which recipients were able to meet their fellow awardees (“Father Connie kids”), as they were recognized for their achievements and hearts for service. In the words of one of this year’s awardees, Alexis Coleman, “It was so personal and incredibly thoughtful! I will remember it forever.”

“While nothing can replace invaluable milestones, such as graduation or homecoming, our hope is that we can shine a little light for students and their families as they chart their path forward to success. Wherever this path may take them, we are excited to be a part of their story and support them along the way,” says Lindsey Masterson, Manager of Scholarships and Grants at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County.

Many of this year’s recipients were awarded through the Community Foundation’s Traditional Scholarship Program, which offers opportunities for more than 70 different types of scholarships through a single application. Recipients were selected based on need, merit, or a combination of both, and the scholarships are designed to satisfy and fulfill a diverse array of academic goals. With this support, students graduating within Sarasota, Manatee, DeSoto, and Charlotte counties, as well as current college students under 24 years of age who graduated from high schools within these four counties, have the opportunity to pursue higher education at colleges or technical schools and fulfill their personal and professional goals.

The 337 Traditional Scholarship recipients were selected from 595 student applications. Those applications were submitted electronically to the Community Foundation, and a dedicated group of 63 volunteer community members meticulously reviewed submissions through our online application system and select committee members conducted thorough Zoom interviews as part of the awards process.

“Despite the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the resiliency and flexibility shown by our local students is reassuring about our future,” said Roxie Jerde, President and CEO of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. “As these future leaders enter the next stage of their academic lives, we are so proud to support them on this journey of knowledge. Our donors recognize that education is the gateway to a lifetime of success, and it’s thanks to their vision that we can invest in these outstanding individuals.”

Additionally, the Community Foundation supports and provides, alongside community partners and donors, several unique scholarship opportunities, including:

Community Care: Suncoast Nursing Action Coalition BSN and Doctoral Scholarships

This spring, the Suncoast Nursing Action Coalition (SNAC) more than doubled the number of nursing education scholarships it awarded to local recipients. In total, 47 scholarships totaling $158,000 were awarded to nursing students, working nurses pursuing BSN degrees, and nurses pursuing doctoral degrees.

The Community Foundation and the Manatee Community Foundation work collaboratively with SNAC, with additional support from other local foundations, to advance the number of nursing graduates and working nursing professionals — including RN, BSN, Doctorate and PhD-prepared nurses — in the four-county area.

Empowerment and Success: Ringling College Library Association Town Hall Scholarship

Each year, high school seniors who embody academic excellence, leadership, and community service are nominated by their principals and sponsored by the Community Foundation with significant organizational support from Sarasota County Schools to participate in the Ringling College Library Association (RCLA) Town Hall Lecture Series as “RCLA Town Hall Scholars.” , Following the lectures, students are encouraged to write an essay reflecting on how the speaker’s message connects with their own life experiences.

Based on these reflections and supported by an outstanding academic record, this year, 15 students were awarded $2,000 college scholarships from the Rosemary and Lou Oberndorf Town Hall Scholarship Fund, David and Faye Dorfman Scholarship Fund, Mary Francis Carroll Scholarship Fund, and Lorren R. North and Ruth H. North Scholarship Fund of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County.

Scholarships were awarded to: Lorett Alarcon; Michael Allmer; Federico Arboleda; Darriel Brookins; Brooke Collins; Maria Dienna; Jake Hanson; Alina Jeglie; Myra Joseph; Vinay Konuru; Addison Longenecker; Jami Melzer; Nirali Patel; Mary Petersen; and, Kristoffer Selberg.

Over the past nine years, the RCLA Town Hall Scholarship Program has awarded 150 scholarships totaling $300,000 to local high school students, in addition to offering more than 1,000 students the opportunity to gain valuable life experience and enrich their education through attending the RCLA Town Hall Lecture Series.

Belonging and Culture: Performing Arts Scholarship

Offered through eight unique scholarship funds, the Performing Arts Scholarship Program awarded 14 students $37,000 in scholarships to further develop and strengthen their passion for the performing arts. Scholarship recipients are residents of Sarasota and Manatee counties pursuing professional careers in a field related to the performing arts, including musical theatre, dance, singing, acting, music, musical instruments, and scenery and costume design, among others.

Professionals and instructors from Sarasota and Manatee performing arts communities collaborated to form the 2020 Performing Arts Scholarship Committee. Committee Members invited to participate included staff from: Asolo Repertory Theatre, Florida Studio Theatre, Manatee County Schools, Sarasota County Schools, Sarasota Orchestra, and the Van Wezel. Committee members reviewed applicants’ academic records, performing arts resumes, and recordings demonstrating each applicant’s performing arts abilities to provide insight and expertise that informed the award determination process.

More to Come

Scholarship season at the Community Foundation continues throughout the remainder of the year, as committees continue to review renewal applications for Traditional Renewable Scholarship recipients and applications for its Adult Scholarship Program, among others.

For 40 years, the Community Foundation has been investing in the next generation of community leaders through traditional and adult scholarships, awarding approximately $2 million each year.


About the Community Foundation of Sarasota County: The Community Foundation of Sarasota County is a public charity founded in 1979 by the Southwest Florida Estate Planning Council as a resource for caring individuals and the causes they support, enabling them to make a charitable impact on the community. With assets of $418 million in more than 1,500 charitable funds, the Community Foundation awarded grants and scholarships totaling $21.5 million dollars last year in the areas of education, the arts, health and human services, civic engagement, animal welfare and the environment. Since its founding, the Community Foundation has been able to grant more than $274 million to area nonprofit organizations to our community thanks to the generosity of charitable individuals, families, and businesses. For more information, visit www.CFSarasota.org or call (941) 955-3000.