Community Stories

Congrats, Class of 2023!

This year, the Community Foundation was pleased to award $199,250 in scholarships to 68 local students from our region. Please join us in celebrating this year's scholars!

At the start of each calendar year, the Community Foundation staff turns our care and attention to ensuring a successful scholarship season. Every detail matters, from ensuring that our website is up to date and our universal application is accessible. Ultimately, we want to ensure that as much money as possible goes to local students pursuing their future dreams.  

This year, we expanded our outreach strategy to reach more students with our scholarship opportunities. We shared resources online and delivered printed materials to places where local young people gather outside of school, such as youth-serving nonprofit spaces, coffee shops, restaurants, and Gabi's Olympic Cards & Comics. Our Programs Team also attended college and career fairs, high school classrooms and lunchrooms, and provided individualized attention to local students who had questions about our process and universal application.  

The result was incredible! We received submissions from 160 students representing 41 schools. This high application volume also meant that our 35 volunteer scholarship reviewers had their work cut out for them! We met the moment together and convened to make the best decisions possible, utilizing the wisdom and lived experiences of everyone on our committees.  

We are proud of all our scholars this year and thankful to our scholarship donors, community partners, school administrators, and review committee members who made this work possible. Thanks to these broad community efforts, we were able to help distribute $115,000 to 44 students in new scholarship awards and an additional $84,250 to 24 students eligible for renewable scholarship awards. Renewable scholarships are particularly exciting because they allow us to further invest in local students' bright futures beyond their first year of studies while providing continuing support toward degree or certificate completion. We are also excited to introduce you to one of this year's scholarship students, Kaiden Woods, and the family of the newly established Jay Elder Creativity Challenge.  

Student Spotlight: Kaiden Woods

Photo Courtesy of Kaiden Woods.

Among the recipients is Kaiden Woods, who accepted an award from the Elizabeth Libby White Memorial Scholarship and was a semi-finalist for the John & Opal McGimpsey Scholarship.  

Kaiden's scholarship application and interview vividly trace the story of him and his twin sister going to live with their great aunt and uncle at the age of two. He wants others to know that despite his parent's absence, his atypical upbringing helped shape him. Today, Kaiden has a positive outlook on his future and highly values the two constants in his life, his family and sports, which he attributes to molding him into someone who is "hard-working, dedicated to my education, compassionate, and appreciative of all I have."  

As a North Thurston High School student, Kaiden excelled academically, maintaining a 3.5 GPA while playing three sports and developing lasting relationships with his coaches and teammates. In addition, sportsmanship is valuable to him because "the commitment to show up daily has taught me that you need to put in the time and commitment to get the results you want." He also believes this ideology can be applied to work and education outside of sports.  

In college, Kaiden aspires to study Kinesiology, the study of body movement, a career choice that will allow him to share his passion for sports and the benefits of a healthy lifestyle with others. We're excited about Kaiden's future and for the many people who will benefit from his care and passion for his work. We are also grateful to the Elizabeth Libby White Memorial Scholarship family, who are excited to support Kaiden through this award.  

New Scholarship: Jay Elder Creativity Challenge

Photo Courtesy of Elder Family featuring Judson Foor and Tait Elder.

This year, the family of Jay Elder was proud to announce the establishment of a scholarship in his honor. One of Jay's proudest achievements was being a public high school teacher at Olympia High School, where he taught for 30 years and was nicknamed the "science guy" for his passion and dedication to his courses, including science, calculus, AP Chemistry, and Physics.  

Jay believed that some of the brightest and best students sometimes go unrecognized in high school. To that end, he always sought to nurture a sense of outside-the-box thinking, ingenuity, creativity, and curiosity in all his students. This belief inspired his family to establish this scholarship to recognize graduating seniors at Olympia High School who are creative in their science, technology, engineering, or math studies, with special consideration for non-traditional learners who thrive outside traditional academic markers.  

On behalf of their family, Alex and Julie Elder would like to say that they are thrilled to have the opportunity to extend a scholarship award to Judson Foor this year, who they "believe perfectly represents the spirit of the Creativity Challenge."  One day, Judson hopes to join an engineering team that designs and builds a hypersonic aircraft revolutionizing military technology, resource transportation, and long-distance travel. We are all excited for Judson's bright future!  

Class of 2023

Please join us in congratulating this year's scholarship recipients and all our communities' graduating seniors. You did it, and we are seriously proud of you!

Alfred R. "Dick" Lewis Memorial Scholarship

  • David Gunderson

Amanda Winters Scholarship

  • Aden Fleming

Andrew Williams Oakes Scholarship

  • Alanis Blackburn  

Cody Brown Memorial Scholarship

  • Alexander Gradev

Coldwell Banker Evergreen Olympic Realty Scholarship

  • Elaine Slifer

Dan R. Montgomery Scholarship

  • Cheyenne Paavola
  • Ileana "Illey" Wall

Donald & Patricia Ernst Olympia Kiwanis Endowed Scholarship

  • Simone Ervin
  • Liam Nixon
  • Ben Jaudon

Ecosystems Scholarship

  • Katherine "Katie" Lincoln
  • Kiana Oos

Elizabeth Libby White Memorial Scholarship

  • Kaiden Woods
  • Christopher Towne

Ellen Anderson deMoise Scholarship

  • Isabel Dickson
  • Olivia Yalvskiy

Grade 13 Fund

  • Erika Edgin
  • Hailey Lohman
  • Sage Williams
  • Tryssa Goos-Robertson

Griffen School Tiernan-Keigher Scholarship

  • Jonathan Blood
  • Gavin Doran
  • Lucas Doran

Henry J. Melusky Memorial Scholarship

  • Livia Ragan
  • Madeline "Maddie" Holstrom
  • Harvest Robinson
  • Graham Christensen  

John & Opal McGimpsey Scholarship

  • Veronica England
  • Madeline "Maddie" Holstrom

Keith Skogsberg Memorial Scholarship  

  • Jasmine Warfield

L&E Bottling Company Scholarship

  • Andrew Kasnick
  • Tavieon "TJ" Tucker

Learning Seed Foundation Scholarship

  • Alanis Blackburn
  • Isatou Barrow
  • Narielle Mendoza
  • Olha Tsvilliuk  

Mike & Sharon Welsh Scholarship

  • Livia Ragan
  • Alyssa Bamba

Next Step Scholarship

  • Angel Vannoy

OHS Faculty Memorial Scholarship

  • Maria Aurelio

OHS Foundation Laurie Callaghan Memorial Scholarship

  • Adrea Brown

Richard J. Geiger Memorial Scholarship

  • Jonathan Holcombe

Thurston Climate Action Scholarship

  • Annabelle Samson
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