MVYouth awards $865,000 in scholarships

(L to R) Graham Stearns, Jessie Dlabaj, Marina Pessoni, Kathleen Dos Santos, Ella Buchert, Lucas da Silva in the front row and Lila Mikos, Sam Fetters, Jonathan Norton, Jake Scott, Zach Utz, Isabella Clarke, Lucas Goncalves, Ruairi Mullin in the back row are MVYouth scholarship recipients. — Chris Baer

MVYouth, a community fund founded in 2014, has awarded $865,000 in college, healthcare and education, and workforce development scholarships to 16 high school seniors. Including this year’s recipients and those who have completed their degrees, MVYouth has supported 76 Island students in its first eight years.

MVYouth’s college scholarships offer four-years of last-dollar funding to high school seniors seeking financial support to attend college. There are eight recipients this year, the largest cohort yet. Ella Buchert will attend University of Massachusetts, Amherst; Isabella Clarke will attend Brown University; Jessie Dlabaj will attend Clemson University; Sam Fetters will attend Amherst College; Lila Mikos will attend Syracuse University; Ruairi Mullin will attend Brown University; Graham Stearns will attend Colgate University; and Zach Utz will attend Middlebury College. 

Responding to the critical shortage of nurses and teachers on Martha’s Vineyard and in the rest of the country, MVYouth’s newest scholarship program, Healthcare and Education, offers four years of last-dollar funding to high school seniors pursuing degrees that will launch careers in healthcare and education. There are four recipients this year — Alison Custer will attend Connecticut College to pursue a teaching career; Lucas Goncalves will attend Gordon College to pursue a physical therapy/kinesthesiology career; Jonathan Norton will attend Connecticut College to pursue a teaching career; and Crystal Zheng will attend University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth to pursue a nursing career.

MVYouth’s workforce development scholarships provide last-dollar funding to young people ages 18 to 25 years old who are pursuing technical training and professional development in one- and two-year programs. Automotive mechanics, aviation, building trades, cosmetology, culinary arts, healthcare, horticulture, landscaping, marine trades, and wind technology are among the career fields prioritized by the program. Four recipients were selected this year — Marina Pessoni will attend Cape Cod Community College to pursue nursing and medical interpreting training; Kathleen Dos Santos will attend Toni & Guy Hairdressing Academy to pursue cosmetology training; Jake Scott will attend MotoRing Technical Training Institute to pursue automotive mechanical training; and Lucas da Silva will attend Cape Cod Community College to pursue electrical training.

MVYouth’s awards are calculated to fill the financial gap remaining after families contribute (according to a federal calculation that establishes an estimated family contribution [EFC]) and schools offer institutional aid. Support is sustained for every year of the proposed education or training program, providing need persists and recipients uphold MVYouth’s scholarship guidelines. Awards are recalculated each year with updated cost of attendance, EFC, and financial aid information.

“The cost of attendance at public and private colleges as well as at training programs continues to steadily rise. In the eight years that MVYouth has been offering educational scholarships to Island students, we’ve seen education costs increase nearly 20 percent,” said Lindsey Scott, executive director. “Pooling our founders’ generous donations and establishing a rigorous evaluation process has enabled us to select among terrific kids. We are thrilled to be able to help so many young people launch into adulthood without the burden of debt.”

MVYouth’s advisory boards assess criteria including academic performance, character, activities, community service, employment experience, and career goals. All semifinalists are interviewed, and each student’s funding gap is calculated before the finalists are selected.