Scholarships Define the Ebell

By Harriette F. Williams

From its beginnings in 1919 with a few students and less than $100, the Ebell’s scholarship fund has grown to more than $6 million and today distributes approximately five dozen scholarships totaling about $250,000 annually. Scholarships were the Ebell’s first philanthropic effort. In 1927 the Charles Flint family bequeathed an endowment, supplementing that begun by Ebell members eight years earlier.

Scholarship Chair Harriette Williams has been involved since she joined the Ebell eight years ago. “When I came to my first luncheon as a member, Kay Lachter encouraged me to join the Chorale and the Scholarship Committee. I couldn’t do Chorale because it was a weekly obligation. I joined Scholarship instead. I began by helping to screen candidates and am now finishing my second year as chair.”

About four years ago scholarship amounts were increased to $2,500 for community colleges and $5,000 for four-year schools. The committee makes a three-year commitment, but often contributes to a fourth as well because, as Harriette notes, “Most of our students take five years to graduate. They work and are involved in their communities and on campus.”

Students apply in the second semester of their freshman year. This year there were 138 applicants. The number of scholarships awarded varies, but usually there are about 57.

Harriette says, “We have relationships with the financial aid advisors on campus. This year we reinstated a breakfast in January for the financial aid advisors to get acquainted with us, go over the application form, give us ideas for ways to improve our system, get to know them. They came from Pomona, Harvey Mudd, LACC, Otis and others.”

With an application deadline of March 31, the Scholarship committee is in the throes of the review process. Volunteers, who typically have a background in education, are trained and must make a time commitment. Harriette says.

“We started screening April 11th. The paper screening takes two weeks and each volunteer rates 20 cases. I’m experienced and I figure it takes me about 30 minutes per folder. We read each application twice. Then we rank the paper screenings and do our cut in terms of who will get an interview. We will interview 100-120 out of 138.” Twenty-minute interviews are conducted by a pair of volunteers.

“We get wonderful scholars,” Harriette says.

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