Community Stories

Celebrating The Class of 2024

This year, 73 local students were awarded $200,500 in Community Foundation scholarships. Join us in celebrating this year's scholars!

At the Community Foundation of South Puget Sound, we believe that education is a powerful tool that can change lives, and we strive to make sure that every student across the South Sound has access to the resources they need to apply for available funding and pursue their dreams.  

This year’s scholarship season called on us to be flexible from the start to meet the needs of our local students and their families. Earlier this year, the Department of Education shortened the application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form and the Student Aid Index (SAI) tables (formally known as Expected Family Contribution or EFC) to reflect needs more accurately, especially for low-income student households. We were quickly made aware that some families faced challenges applying successfully while others experienced significant delays. In response, we quickly adjusted our universal application process to allow students to use the Federal Student Aid Estimator when applying and to email us their completed FAFSA Student Summary or WASFA Financial Aid offer once received. This change ensured that every student interested in applying for open scholarship opportunities proceeded with their application.  

Based on past year’s feedback, we also expanded our outreach efforts by partnering with the Timberland Regional Library and scheduling scholarship sessions at the Mountain View, Packwood, and Shelton branches to ensure that students in these communities had access to scholarship information and support from our staff. We also distributed posters and flyers to local youth-serving organizations and schools across Lewis, Mason, and Thurston counties and offered personalized scholarship completion assistance virtually with Community Foundation staff as we do every year.  

The outcome was outstanding! We collected 416 applications from 129 students who came from 31 different schools. This high volume of applications also meant that 34 volunteer scholarship reviewers had a lot of work on their hands. With every application they read, reviewers expressed how inspired they were to learn more about the accomplishments and ambitions of local students. Thank you to this year’s volunteer reviewers for their dedication, time, and thoughtful discussions guided by their lived experiences.

We are proud of all our student scholars this year and grateful to our community partners, scholarship donors, school administrators, and review committee members who made this work possible. Thanks to these broad community efforts, the Community Foundation was able to help distribute $200,500 to 73 local students in new and renewable scholarship awards. Join us in celebrating one of this year's scholarship students, Scout, and the families of the newly established Russell Legacy: Women in STEM Scholarship and Randy Edwards Memorial Scholarship.

Student Spotlight: Elizabeth “Scout” Abbott

Photo courtesy of Abbott Family, featuring Scout.

Among this year’s many student scholars is Scout Abbott, who accepted an award from the Ecosystems Scholarship, which is awarded to students already in college who are pursuing careers in natural resources and land use planning. Scout's application emphasizes her strong commitment to environmental conservation, inspired by her parents' professions. She also shared the personal significance of her career choice in memory of her late father, who worked in Salmon Conservation and greatly influenced her dedication to ensuring clean and healthy rivers and streams throughout Washington State. For her, "protecting the one place that everyone calls home is important."

Scout is an incoming junior at Washington State University and, like most college students, has big dreams and a lot to still figure out. She aspires to eventually work in the environmental sector of the government, doing important work that she loves and makes a difference, adding that she hasn’t “picked a specific area that I want to conserve, but I am sure I will find it naturally.”  

We're thrilled about Scout’s future and the many people who will benefit from her passion for this crucial work across our communities. We are also deeply grateful to Rollie Geppert and his family, who have supported numerous students through this scholarship opportunity since 2010.  

New Scholarship: Russell Legacy: Women in STEM Scholarship

The Russell Family is thrilled to announce the establishment of a new renewable scholarship aimed at recognizing and supporting outstanding students in Lewis, Mason, and Thurston counties with a passion and commitment to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).   

The family has a strong connection to STEM careers. Both Chris and Barbara have Computer Science degrees, and their desire to establish this scholarship fund was influenced not only by their life experiences but also by their children's pursuits in Mechanical Engineering and Computer Engineering and their partners' work in the technology industry. The family is particularly mindful of the “unique challenges facing women pursuing careers in STEM” and hopes that the scholarship will inspire more women and gender diversity and representation in these critical fields of study.   

This year, the scholarship committee recommended Madeleine Smith as the first recipient. Madeleine believes that coding is "the building blocks of our modern world" and that it's the endless possibilities in this field that drive her to pursue a degree in computer science. On behalf of the entire Russell Family, Chris wishes to extend their congratulations to Madeleine for her incredible achievements and wishes her tremendous success as she begins her studies in higher education. 

New Scholarship: Randy Edwards Memorial Scholarship  

Photo courtesy of OHS High School featuring Caitlin Bodin (L), Margaret Thompson (C), and Ben Edwards (R).

This year, the family of Randy Edwards was excited to announce the opening of a scholarship for student applications in memory of Randy “Mr. E” Edwards and his 50-year career as an educator, serving the Olympia community as a teacher, coach, and official for youth and high school athletics.  

This scholarship opportunity is open yearly to graduating seniors at Olympia High School with a minimum 2.5 GPA and aims to recognize and support students who are involved in athletics and demonstrate a commitment to community service. To the family, community service was an important part of Randy’s life and extends far beyond the traditional definition, including but not limited to volunteering, paid work experience, community engagement, leadership positions, caring for a family member, raising animals, or other activities.  

The Edwards family is very proud to present the first scholarship award this year to Margaret Thompson. "Margaret's accomplishments in academics, athletics, and above all—her dedication and service to our community make her the perfect recipient for this award," said Ben Edwards on behalf of the Edwards family.  

The Edwards family would like to thank the scholarship committee for their selection, and also to express their well-wishes to Margaret in the pursuit of her life goals.

Class of 2024

We invite you to join us in celebrating this year's new scholarship recipients and the many graduating seniors across the South Sound!

Amanda Winters Scholarship

  • Kora Landers

Coldwell Banker Evergreen Olympic Realty Scholarship

  • Nicole Oliver

Donald & Patricia Ernst Olympia Kiwanis Endowed Scholarship

  • Daisy Corwin
  • Ren Roesler  
  • Sarisha Suresh

Ecosystems Scholarship

  • Elizabeth “Scout” Abbott

Elizabeth Libby White Memorial Scholarship

  • Hannah Pidduck

Ellen Anderson deMoise Scholarship

  • Heaven Jacobson
  • Maya Hankins

Henry J. Melusky Memorial Scholarship

  • Diana Kaufman
  • Neta Keren
  • Ren Roesler

Jay Elder Creativity Challenge

  • Cole Wilson

John & Opal McGimpsey Scholarship

  • Josue Rios-Villicana
  • Sujith Kadagandla

L&E Bottling Company Scholarship

  • Tru Davis

Learning Seed Foundation Scholarship

  • Abigail Asare
  • Blaze Rowan
  • Mya Clardy
  • Samara Nasrullah
  • Suzanne Le

Mike & Sharon Welsh Scholarship

  • Cooper Brown

OHS Faculty Memorial Scholarship

  • Jenna Rigg

OHS Foundation Alfred R. “Dick” Lewis Memorial Scholarship

  • Cole Wilson

OHS Foundation Laurie Callaghan Memorial Scholarship

  • Kate Herrick

Randy Edwards Memorial Scholarship

  • Margaret Thompson  

Richard J. Geiger Memorial Scholarship

  • Inderjeet Joshi
  • Richard Beckman

Russell Legacy: Women in STEM

  • Madeleine Smith
Investing in Youth

Celebrating The Class of 2024

This year, 73 local students were awarded $200,500 in Community Foundation scholarships. Join us in celebrating this year's scholars!

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