The second half of the school year has begun and local high school seniors are now beginning to think about graduation. But for many who plan to continue on to college, there is significant stress around finding enough money to get them there next fall. In Pleasanton, high school seniors can turn to Amador Valley Scholarships, Inc. (AVSI)- an organization created specifically to provide scholarships to graduating seniors in the Pleasanton Unified School District - for help.
Founded by a group of local citizens in 1965, AVSI is one of Pleasanton's oldest non-profit organizations. The group began by helping Pleasanton graduates in need of financial assistance to enter two- and four-year colleges. In 1975, scholarships became available to graduates attending technical or vocational training as well.
"Our purpose is to raise scholarship money to be awarded to students in the community," says AVSI Board of Directors President Mary Hart Reding, daughter of one of AVSI's founders, Thomas Hart, for whom Pleasanton's Thomas Hart Middle School is named. "Since AVSI began, we've awarded over $319,000 to 338 students from Amador Valley, Foothill and Village High Schools. This year's application deadline is March 9, so now is the time for students to apply."
Several scholarships are available to which graduating seniors can apply. In addition to numerous General Amador Valley Scholarships - the number of which is determined by the amount of money AVSI raises each year - there are eight memorial scholarships of varying amounts available. Winners are selected by an Awards Committee and are chosen on the basis of scholarship, merit and need, and interviews are required of all finalists.
"What's great about the AVSI scholarships is that the award money goes directly to the student, rather than being sent to their college or vocational schools' financial aid office," adds Reding. "This allows the student to have control over how they use the award money for expenses such as books, food or rent." Award checks are presented to the recipients upon evidence of enrollment.
AVSI's funding is based solely on tax-deductible contributions from the community. Each February, the organization conducts a local letter campaign, seeking contributions from the community and businesses. Ongoing scholarships monies are provided through memorial funds established in the names of specific individuals. In addition, funds are raised through events sponsored by the Board of Directors.
"All the money contributed goes directly to the scholarships," concludes Reding. "There are very few overhead expenses because the AVSI Board members donate their time and money for mailings and other administrative activities. The more money we receive, the more scholarships we can give out. All contributions, regardless of size, are important."
To learn more about AVSI and how to contribute, visit its new web site at www.amadorvalleyscholarshipsinc.org , or call (925) 846-9347.
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