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Margaret Early

Many years ago, the late Margaret Early heard the story of Eugene Lang, a businessman who set up a very successful incentive scholarship at his disadvantaged secondary school in Harlem, NY. Having served in the education field her entire career, this story inspired Margaret to establish a similar motivation for local students in our community.

In 2001, she set up the Early Incentive Scholarship Fund at the Community Foundation. The sixth grade class at Shea Middle School was chosen because it was one of the neediest schools at the time. Staff at the Community Foundation helped to keep track of the eligible students through their schooling, providing them with personal encouragement, coordinating fun and educational events and reminding them of the scholarship opportunity annually.

The sponsored class graduated in June of 2008 from Fowler High School. Each eligible student received some funding for post-secondary studies, and one hard-working student received $100,000 to pay for his or her college education. Dr. Early attributed the scholarship’s success to hands-on interaction with the Community Foundation staff, as well as their careful stewardship of her initial contribution.

President John F. Kennedy once said, "Of those to whom much is given, much is required." Margaret took those words to heart during her lifetime, with hope that others will also be inspired to set up funds to support education through the Community Foundation. "Not all of our youngsters hold the hope of going to college. The sooner we give them hope, the more their lives will be improved throughout their schooling," Margaret said.

The Community Foundation is proud to support donors with specific goals and welcomes opportunities to help customize giving plans.

After Margaret’s passing, the Community Foundation received additional funds through a bequest in her will. Margaret’s instructions provided that her gift would support three nonprofits in perpetuity through a designated fund. Between the time of Margaret’s death and the settling of her estate, one of the named nonprofit beneficiaries had declared bankruptcy and ceased operations. If Margaret’s will had directed that the funds go immediately and directly to the charities, the portion to the failing charity would likely have been lost in the bankruptcy. The use of the Community Foundation as steward of the bequest, however, allowed for those funds to be redistributed to the remaining two charities without court intervention or delay. All of her donation will benefit the causes she most cared about because of her relationship with the Community Foundation.

If you're interested in opening a scholarship fund, learn more here.