In early 2000, the UVCIA embarked on an effort to provide merit-based scholarships to students who were seniors in area high schools and who would be attending college and pursuing careers in a technology-related field.
Applications were co-coordinated through Upper Valley high schools. Each application required a description of a technical project completed by the student as well as a transcript of grades. Acceptance of the scholarship would require that the student present his project at a regularly scheduled UVCIA meeting.
In May 2000, the UVCIA awarded two scholarships for $1,000 each.
The student presentations made at the May 2000 meeting were extraordinarily good. As a result of hearing them, the president of Chicago-Soft, Ltd., an Upper Valley technology- related company, recommended to the UVCIA board that the UVCIA consider providing future student recipients with an annually renewable $1,000 merit-based scholarship for a maximum of four years. Chicago-Soft, Ltd. pledged to contribute up to $4,000 per year in matching grants.
Member companies within the UVCIA met the challenge put up by Chicago Soft, Ltd. In May of 2001 the UVCIA awarded its first scholarships of $1,000 per year for each of a maximum of four years depending upon annual grade point averages attained by the recipients.
Following the awards program in May 2001, the president of Chicago-Soft, Ltd., approached the Board to ask whether there was interest in establishing an endowment fund for the scholarship program. Chicago-Soft, Ltd. pledged to contribute $25,000 in matching grants. The UVCIA set up a 501(c)(3) corporation, the suitable legal structure to accept corporate gifts in a tax-advantaged manner, and solicited contributions from member companies.
The challenge made by Chicago-Soft, Ltd. was matched by early 2002. The funds in the endowment are now held and managed by the NH Charitable Foundation. As of July 2004 the financial contribution of Chicago-Soft, Ltd. to the UVCIA Scholarship Program is in excess of $32,000.
The UVCIA Scholarship Program is entering its sixth year. Thus far, ten Upper Valley students have benefited from the program.
In September 2004, the UVCIA will begin a campaign to fully fund the scholarship endowment. The goal is $160,000. To meet its goal, the UVCIA will be asking major Upper Valley companies for contributions and will suggest gift amounts of $25,000, $10,000 or $5,000.
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