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Foundation donors generate record scholarship sum for 2021 grads

Foundation donors generate record scholarship sum for 2021 grads

Spring is scholarship season for high school students. Converging as it does this year with hopeful signs of emerging from the pandemic, it also is cause for celebration as graduating seniors build their foundation for postsecondary success.

Through the generous gifts of donors, the District 214 Education Foundation is awarding nearly $90,000 in collegiate scholarships - a record amount - to more than 70 graduating seniors. The recipients represent every school in District 214, including its specialized schools. 

Among the scholarship highlights are Redefining Ready! Awards, which require applicants to create 30-second videos showing why they are more than a test score. This scholarship is particularly meaningful, as, for several years, District 214 has been at the forefront of a national initiative to demonstrate exactly this: that readiness for success beyond high school involves a myriad of factors beyond standardized test scores.

This year, nine students earned $6,000 in Redefining Ready! Awards. First place winner Ani Perez-Brennan of Wheeling High School, earned $2,500 for composing and performing a song that improbably managed to squeeze her long list of honors, activities and achievements into an earworm-worthy, 30-second tune. Also earning scholarships with creative videos were Geneve Halfman, of Wheeling, Bryan Forrest, of John Hersey High School, Gavin McCorry, of Elk Grove High School, Yuriy Dobush, of Hersey, Angelina Jasinski, of Prospect High School, Bridget Reynolds, of Buffalo Grove High School, Ajla Kradolami, of Rolling Meadows High School, and Izzie Jakubowski, of the Academy.

For the third consecutive year, awards included the ground-breaking Blueprint Bosch Vocational Scholarship, which covers in full the cost of training for a career certificate in areas like welding, HVAC, plumbing, machining, automotive technology and carpentry through a two-year college. These scholarships, funded by the Bosch Community Fund, are believed to be the first of their kind in the region. Earning the Bosch scholarships this year are Sagar Lad, of Elk Grove High School, Christopher Nicolau, of Prospect High School, Citlalli Sanchez-Ayala, of Buffalo Grove High School, Omar Sierra of Buffalo Grove and Adam Waluszko, of Wheeling High School.

In addition to the Foundation’s district-wide scholarships, donors have generously donated scholarships earmarked for students at each of District 214’s schools. This year’s awards include honors for girls seeking careers in STEM or law; students excelling in athletics, arts and academics; those who may not be at the top of the class but demonstrate hard work, grit and determination.

Nearly 300 seniors applied, and the Foundation for the first time used a new scholarship-specific one-stop online portal, making applying and judging the awards more intuitive and efficient. Students are required to complete a thank-you note for donors before receiving their scholarship money.

It’s not too early to begin thinking about next year’s seniors. Donors who would like to support a scholarship may donate through the next six months, and next year’s seniors will be able to apply from December 2021 through February 2022. Prospective donors may contact Brooke Snell at and may watch for updates and learn more about the District 214 Foundation by visiting its website.