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New London - The Leonard H. Bulkeley Scholarship Fund has over the years provided more than $2.4 million in scholarships to New London residents, and trustees said on the 30th anniversary of the scholarship program that they plan to provide scholarships for at least another 30 years.
Forty-nine New London residents were awarded scholarships for the upcoming school year, with each ranging from $500 to $2,500.
"In large measure, these are students of first generation (immigrants), they are the first ones going to college and graduating high school," said Beth Sabilia, co-chairman of the fund's board of trustees. "To see them excited about the future, it just kind of renews your commitment and faith in a younger generation."
The Bulkeley scholarships come from the sale of the Bulkeley School for Boys in the early 1950s. The school was named after Leonard Bulkeley, a merchant who bequeathed his assets for the building of the Bulkeley School for Boys in 1849. He had inherited his father's wealth a year earlier after Charles Bulkeley, a famous merchant during the War of 1812, died.
The Leonard H. Bulkeley Scholarship is not the same scholarship as the one given out by the Bulkeley Alumni Association, which is reserved for descendants of alumni from the Bulkeley School.
The Bulkeley Scholarship board was formerly run by only "Bulkeley Boys," or Bulkeley School alumni, but is now made up of four alumni and three community members. The scholarship fund has grown to about $1.3 million, and Sabilia said the board would be looking at fundraising efforts to determine how to keep the fund going for another 30, 60 or 90 years.
Criteria for the scholarship include being a New London resident, ranking in the top third of the class and participating in the community. To determine whether a students gets a $500 scholarship versus a larger scholarship, the scholarship committee scores applicants based on interviews with the students, their academic records, community activities and financial need.
Recipients can apply for more scholarship money throughout their college careers.
Rich Foye, co-chairman of the board, said that most of the students who fill out a complete application are awarded a scholarship.
"So it really is not this huge competition where only a couple of students will receive an award," he said. "The (scholarship) committee felt very strong that we should help all these kids."
Sometimes the student is going to a community college and $2,500 is the difference on whether they can attend, he said.
Foye said he volunteers on the board because it is a chance to help city kids. Many New London students have overcome hardships such as learning English as a second language, growing up with only one parent or having incarcerated parents, Foye said.
They "have had successful academic careers through hard work and that is the real theme - that there are kids that are pulling themselves up," he said.
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