The Town Council approved the Town of Merrillville Inclusion Scholarship Fund at the Town Council meeting held on April 12, 2023. The scholarship is being made possible using proceeds from the Inaugural Black History Celebration Dinner held this year in February. The sold-out event generated net profits of over $35,000 due to ticket sales and specifically sponsorships that many area businesses, developers, and contractors provided.
Council President Rick Bella and Special Event Committee Chairman Councilman Richard Hardaway met with the local Legacy Foundation to finalize the scholarship fund which will allow current high school students who have applied for scholarships to be eligible for the next level of their education including college or trade school tuition. The Legacy Foundation will be administering the program and making the recipient selections based on criteria suggested by the Foundation.
The town will use $25,000 of the proceeds for the fund and reserve $10,000 to be used toward next year’s Black History Celebration Dinner. An endowment fund will be created using $21,000 of the fund which will gain interest each year while $4,000 will be used in the next month to award four Andrean and Merrillville High School students with a $1,000 award from the current graduating class of 2023.
The criteria for selecting students will be done using a Scorecard that weighs criteria. GPA Scoring will also assist in selecting recipients. The weighting of selection criteria looks like this:
Overall Financial Need
Public & Private Obligations
The GPA scoring is also designed to assist students in this way:
GPA of 2.5 to 3.5 = 15 points
GPA of 3.51 to 4.0 = 10 points
GPA of 4.1 and over = 5 points
Students must be graduating high school seniors from Andrean or Merrillville High School and must be accepted into a 2 or 4-year accredited college or university, vocational, or trade school. A minimum GPA of 2.5 cumulative; preference is given to students with a 2.5 to 3.5 GPA. Students must demonstrate financial need.
It is simply amazing that in the inaugural year of our celebration dinner, we can offer scholarships to area high school students for the class of 2023. The Scholarship Fund will have a webpage and donations will be accepted at any time throughout the year. The many businesses who donated to the Black History Celebration Dinner should feel very proud of what they have supported. Their contributions will better the lives of many area students for years to come.
-Rick Bella, Town Council President – Ward 5 Representative