The St. Croix Foundation announced the establishment of the Patrick and Amelia Williams Opportunity Fund for St. Croix youth on May 1. Geared towards providing opportunities for students to pursue their career goals through colleges or universities, scholarships not to exceed $5000 will be awarded to successful applicants.
All applications will be reviewed on the basis of residency, school attendance and GPA. Graduates from a St. Croix public high school who have also attended a public junior high school and reside on St. Croix are eligible to apply. All applicants must provide proof of acceptance to an accredited college or university and must indicate and maintain a GPA of 2.0 or higher.
Applications will be reviewed by the St. Croix Foundation Grants Review Committee and must be received no later than June 15. Awards will be announced by July 16.
Junior Gaspard, a native of St. Croix and graduate of Central High School and John H. Woodson Junior High School, established the Patrick and Amelia Williams Opportunity Fund to honor his grandparents. Gaspard saw hard work and determination embodied in his grandfather’s spirit when he moved the entire family to St. Croix from St. Vincent. He saw his grandmother’s resilience as she dealt with being blind, providing a roadmap to overcoming anything with strength and perseverance.
He has seen firsthand the drive and ability of St. Croix youth and knows many of them just need the resources to seize the opportunity of higher education. Gaspard said, “There are talented students at a variety of income and GPA levels and we wanted to create a scholarship for students across the spectrum.”
To reflect the spirit of Patrick and Amelia Williams, this scholarship Fund also gives priority to young people who are involved in meaningful community service and who participate in extra-curricular activities. The fund acknowledges the challenges that many young people face in becoming more involved in civics, and it invites students to demonstrate in essays the reality of their socioeconomic issues to allow the review committee to better assess applications.
After visiting the island in December post-Hurricane Maria, Gaspard wanted to do something that could have a long-term impact. Knowing the challenges high-school students face preparing for and getting resources for college in a post-hurricane environment, this seemed to be the most impactful way to help.
“I remember going to double sessions and doing homework by kerosene lantern after Hurricane Hugo,” said Gaspard. “If this helps a few students who can persevere to get and stay in college, it will be a success.”
The Patrick and Amelia Williams Opportunity Fund will provide up to two scholarships a year with all scholarship recipients required to report on their successes and challenges throughout the year. This process will ensure that the fund continues to meet current needs and provide students with additional support if needed.
The full application guidelines can be found on the foundation’s website at www.stxfoundation.org. Applicants are encouraged to apply online; however, applications may also be mailed/delivered to St. Croix Foundation’s office at 1023 Market Street, Christiansted, VI 00820.