Fairfield County’s Community Foundation (FCCF) is among the largest providers of college and vocational training scholarships in the region. Funding higher education and providing opportunities for training and professional certifications is a priority for FCCF whose need is reflected by recent data from the Fairfield County Community Wellbeing Index 2019, which indicates that “six years after graduating high school, only 58 percent of Fairfield County public school students have a college degree.”

Student and family financial barriers are one of the underlying reasons for this statistic. Providing financial assistance to attain that dream of a college education and the opportunity for post-secondary education and employment for all Fairfield County high school students is why the foundation’s scholarship program is so important, an announcement said.

In 2020, close to $1 million will be awarded to more than 400 Fairfield County high school seniors, college undergraduates and graduate students to jump start their path to success. These scholarship awards range from $500 to $8,000 and some of the scholarships are even renewable. Since the Community Foundation Scholarship Program was established in 1992, nearly $9 million has been awarded.

“Together, we can make your future and the future of our community brighter. We encourage Fairfield County students to dream big and apply for these scholarships! Finding the resources to pay for higher education is a daunting task. The Community Foundation has a vast array of awards available through the generosity of our more than 160 fund holders who are committed to investing in improving lives for all of Fairfield County,” stated Juanita T. James, CEO & president of FCCF.

The Community Foundation’s vision to close the opportunity gap in the county by eliminating disparities in income, education, employment, housing and health is supported by the scholarship initiative. With over 175 scholarships to choose from, students applying to two-year and four-year educational institutions, both within Connecticut and beyond, and for technical certificate programs may qualify for any number of opportunities. Scholarships through FCCF are available for high school seniors and current undergraduate and graduate students residing such towns as Bridgeport, Easton, Fairfield, Monroe, Milford, Shelton, Stratford, Trumbull and Westport. There is an online application at fccfoundation.org. The application deadline is March 21. For frequently asked questions about the process of applying for the numerous scholarships, there are many answers at FCCFoundation.org/Apply.

FCCF also offers a wide selection of scholarships directly through most high schools in the county. Students and parents are encouraged to visit their high school’s websites or contact their guidance departments for additional information on scholarships available and instructions on how to apply.

One of the highlighted scholarships this year for students in good standing is The Walter Breslav, Jr. Scholarship. This scholarship was established by the Mechanics and Farmers Savings Bank in 1986, in memory of Walter Breslav, Jr., a longtime member of the Mechanics and Farmers Savings Bank Board of Directors. Breslav is remembered as a man with unending intellectual curiosity who cared deeply for his work and his clients and as a brilliant person who did an enormous amount of good for so many people, the announcement said. The intent of this scholarship fund is to provide higher education opportunities for high school seniors from the greater Bridgeport area every other year leading to higher education that will lead to a bachelor's degree in business or finance. Candidates should also demonstrate a strong social conscience. Recipients may apply to renew their scholarship each year provided that satisfactory grades and an essay are submitted each year with the renewal request. The fund continues to be supported by the Breslav family and their friends and has extended opportunities to many by investing in their future.

Another scholarship option for many students is the Les Treize Scholarships. Les Treize, a group of business and professional women, established their fund at the Community Foundation in 1992 to provide college scholarships. These scholarship opportunities are primarily for African-American students from local high schools in the greater Bridgeport area and are awarded in accordance with academic potential and need. Awardees are selected by the Les Treize volunteer committee. The opportunities being given by Les Treize investing in the community has grown exponentially over the years and is a model and a compelling tale of how concerned, community-spirited women can and do make an impact in their community, the announcement said.

Those who are interested in giving students the opportunity to pursue their dreams by establishing a scholarship at Fairfield County’s Community Foundation may contact Mike Rosen at 203.750.3200.