Merrillville rolls out scholarship program
The Council approved the fund during its April 11 regular meeting, and the scholarship program is established using proceeds from the Town’s inaugural Black History Celebration, which took place in February.
For 2023, there will be four scholarship awards of $1,000 each. Three will be awarded to Merrillville High School students and one will be awarded to an Andrean High School student.
“It is really amazing that in our inaugural year of this event, we can offer meaningful scholarships to our area high school students for the class of 2023,” Merrillville Town Council President Rick Bella said. “We cannot thank all of the wonderful companies and organizations who donated sponsorships or other in- kind donations allowing this scholarship fund to begin. These $1,000 awards will impact our area’s students.”
The sold-out Black History Celebration Dinner generated net profits of $35,000. Merrillville designated $25,000 of that money for the scholarship fund and a $10,000 reserve for organizing the 2024 Black History Celebration Dinner.
From the scholarship funding, $4,000 will be used for awards made this year. An endowment fund of $21,000 has been created, and it will gain interest each year.
“We talked about what we would do with the extra money, and in our wildest dreams, we never thought that we would have a $21,000 endowment and still be able to award four $1,000 scholarships to area high school students,” Town Councilman Richard Hardaway said.
Town Councilman Leonard White thanked resident Darian Collins for the suggestion of creating a scholarship program with the benefits from the Black History Celebration Dinner.
“This scholarship program is a boost to helping our young people in the Merrillville community seeking higher education and learning opportunities to bring those skills to life,” White said.
Town Councilman Jeff Minchuk said he’s excited Merrillville started a wonderful program to help students build their future.
“It's nice to see the proceeds from such a great event go to an even greater cause to help the youth of our community,” Minchuk said.
The Town has collaborated with Merrillville-based Legacy Foundation to administer the scholarship program.
“We are proud to partner with the Town of Merrillville to provide this opportunity for Merrillville students,” Legacy Foundation President & CEO Kelly Anoe said. “By establishing this scholarship, the Town has demonstrated a commitment to educating our youth and inclusivity, which are both central to the success of our communities. This scholarship will last as a testament to that commitment, helping students for generations to come.”
The Legacy Foundation will select which students will be awarded the scholarships, and the organization has established criteria for potential applicants.
Students must be graduating high school seniors from Andrean or Merrillville High School, and they must be accepted into a 2- or 4-year accredited college or university, vocational, or trade school. Applicants must have a minimum GPA of 2.5 cumulative, with a preference given to students with a 2.5 to 3.5 GPA. Students must also demonstrate financial need.
“As the parent of a current college student, I fully understand the financial stress other parents are going through to give their children the best possible opportunities to better themselves,” Town Councilman Shawn Pettit said. “This scholarship fund will offer another financial alternative to lessen the burden of paying for their children's higher education.”
The Legacy Foundation will use a Scorecard system that weighs criteria. The weighting of the selection criteria looks like this:
|Overall Financial Need||20%|
|Public & Private Obligations||25%|
The GPA scoring is also designed to assist students in this way: GPA of 2.5 to 3.5 = 15 points
GPA of 3.51 to 4.0 = 10 points
GPA of 4.1 and over = 5 points
Visit legacyfdn.org for scholarship application information.