CONTACT: DEANNA JAMES, PRESIDENT
(TEL)340.773.9898, (EMAIL) DJAMES@STXFOUNDATION.ORG
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 1, 2019
St. Croix Foundation is pleased to announce that the second cycle of the Patrick and Amelia Williams Opportunity Fund for St. Croix youth will open on April 1, 2019. Geared towards providing opportunities for St. Croix students to pursue their career goals through colleges or universities, scholarships not to exceed $5000 will be awarded to successful applicants. All applications will be reviewed on the basis of residency, school attendance, and GPA.
Graduates from a St. Croix public high school who have also attended a public junior high school and reside on St. Croix are eligible to apply. All applicants must provide proof of acceptance to an accredited college or university and must indicate and maintain a GPA of 2.0 or higher. Applications will be reviewed by the St. Croix Foundation Grants Review Committee and must be received no later than May 10.
The Patrick and Amelia Williams Opportunity Fund was established in 2018 by Junior Gaspard, a native of St. Croix and graduate of Central High School and John H. Woodson Junior High School, who wished to honor his grandparents, Patrick and Amelia Williams. The Williams’ hard work, determination, and resilience is a legacy that Junior Gaspard and his family are committed to passing down to further generations, providing opportunities for St. Croix youth to overcome any obstacle with strength and perseverance.
After visiting St. Croix post-Hurricane Maria and Irma, Gaspard wanted to do something that could have a long-term impact. Knowing the challenges high-school students face preparing for and getting resources for college in a post-hurricane environment, this seemed to be most impactful way to help. “I remember going to double sessions and doing homework by kerosene lantern after Hurricane Hugo,” said Gaspard. “If this helps a few students who can persevere to get and stay in college, it will be a success.” He has seen firsthand the drive and ability St. Croix youth and knows many of them just need the resources to seize the opportunity of higher education.
President of St. Croix Foundation, Deanna James, stated, “The Patrick and Amelia Williams Opportunity Fund and the commitment of the Gaspard family to support St. Croix youth is an example of active, hands-on philanthropy that the Foundation is nurturing throughout our direct services and grantmaking. While the Territory continues to rebuild after the 2017 hurricanes, encouraging and providing opportunities to students is a critical piece of empowering our young people to become fully engaged in sound community development.”
In its first cycle, the Patrick and Amelia Williams Opportunity Fund awarded three St. Croix students scholarships totaling over $10,000 to defray tuition expenses for awardees to attend Monroe College in New York, Houston Community College in Texas, and the University of the Virgin Islands. Today, the Gaspard family is building awareness and mobilizing community both on and off the island to increase opportunities and availability of resources for more local youth.
In reflection of the spirit of Patrick and Amelia Williams, the scholarship Fund also gives priority to young people who are involved in meaningful community service and who participate in extra-curricular activities. The Fund acknowledges the challenges that many young people face in becoming more involved in civics, however, and invites students to demonstrate in essays the reality of their socioeconomic issues to allow the Review Committee to better assess applications.
The Patrick and Amelia Williams Opportunity Fund will provide up to two scholarships a year with all scholarship recipients required to report on their successes and challenges throughout the year. This process will ensure that the Fund continues to meet current needs and to provide students with additional support if needed. Applications are due by May 10. All applicants will be informed of decisions by June 1. The full application guidelines can be found on the Foundation’s website at www.stxfoundation.org. Applicants are encouraged to apply online; however, applications may also be mailed/delivered to St. Croix Foundation’s office at 1023 Market Street, Christiansted, VI 00820.
St. Croix Foundation wishes to extend its sincerest appreciation to Junior Gaspard, who is strategically giving back to the community and honoring those that provided him further opportunities that have led to his success! For more information about how to support the Patrick and Amelia Williams Opportunity Fund, please visit the Foundation online or call at 340.773.9898.