Top 5 Scholarship Finalists

by irms

About a month ago, I announced that I would be giving a thousand dollars to someone who could demonstrate that money would make the difference between doing something awesome, and not doing it. I thought, it would be a neat & fun way to give back, and to encourage those that are out there trying to do stuff, when often, it’s so hard to do stuff. It was a small gesture. An idea.

Much to my surprise, people started pitching in and that thousand dollars soon became $2,100. One of these applications is about to get much more than they bargained for. $1,100 dollars more, in fact.

Applicants were spread throughout the world (the power of the Retweet strikes again), which was another surprise to me. AND even better, not one of the applicants blamed a poor economy for not being able to do xyz, though we all know it’s a factor. I this find incredibly encouraging. These people are optimistic and refreshing.

This process — that of reading the applications and having to cut people — has been much more difficult than I ever thought it would be. I must have a bleeding heart because I waffled on my decisions every time I re-read the entries (very unlike me, I’ll have you know).

While I can’t fund them all, every one of these finalists deserves the money. Final decision will be made next week [November 3rd]. Your input is always welcome.

In no particular order, these are the 5 finalists:

Ms. Florence Ramos

…is a teacher who works late hours, early mornings and weekends to raise money for her students. She’s 27 and teaches 6th grade at a small school in the country. The 6th grade standard science curriculum is all about Earth Science.

WITH THE MONEY, she’d take her class to Sierra Outdoor School. Many of her students have never seen an ocean, or a mountain, or a forest. The trip would not only make the curriculum “real” to the students (something every teacher struggles with), but would also provide a life experience they may never otherwise have.

Devoya Mayo

…is a poet, a playwright and former radio personality — among other things — who’s interested in bringing about social change via the arts. She’s sometimes known as Ms Soulflower when she’s DJing around town.

WITH THE MONEY, she’d curate a series of performances with like-minded colleagues under the moniker The Soulflower Group. The Soulflower Speakeasy series is a collection of five performances that would occur over the course of six months. The first Soulflower Speakeasy will pair a nationally recognized artist with a local artists in hopes to reignite the spirit of the arts in our community.

Mrs. Sabrina Famellos

…is a massage therapist and small business owner. She’s grown her yarn company from a tiny operation to a force to be reckoned with in the last three years alone. Thanks to her entrepreneurial spirit and savvy, she’s been able to hire two part-time and two-full time employees while putting her product in 80 shops throughout the United States.

WITH THE MONEY, she’d buy a new set of vertical swifts which would be a tremendous upgrade over her current equipment. The upgrade would reduce inefficiencies in her process, thereby increasing productivity. With that increased productivity, the business could hire one to two more employees, and be a boon to the local economy.

Chris Collins

…is a former reporter, holds two degrees, and is now the first full-time executive director of West African Vocational Schools. WAVS is a non-profit school in the community of Canchungo — a place with no elected representation and no functioning electrical grid — with ten Guinenan teachers, four guards, and a janitor — all locals. The school provides job skills to residents and is the only vocational center in a region of 50,000 people.

WITH THE MONEY, WAVS will partner with Give2Grow (nonprofit) to implement a micro-loan program for trained youth wishing to start-up an enterprise. The program would lend money to these entrepreneurs for a period of one year, and re-lend the to the next set upon repayment. Anticipated impact? Members of the Canchungo community could pull themselves out of poverty.

Alex Kang

…is frustrated with the current educational system. He’s a self-taught life-hacker, web designer, developer and a graduate of UC Merced. He’s seen the ins and outs of the collegiate system and finds room for improvement. In his job at his alma mater, Alex recognizes that something can be done about the quality of applicants that apply for IT & programming jobs.

WITH THE MONEY, he’d start a local group that trains students to develop for the web. The goal would be to train a pool of talent that remains in the Valley longer than their four years in college. He and his colleagues would immerse the students in the process of client work, sys admin responsibilities, content management systems, and of course, writing and debugging code. He’d like to see a full-on business grow out of the group.




These are the five, though I could have easily chosen twenty. Your feedback is welcome, and your support is required 😉

Till next week…