Your generosity educates our youth

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To the editor:

At the upcoming May 8 Scholarship Fund of Alexandria annual gala, 1998 T.C. Williams grad Deisy Lemus Brangman and four other T.C. Williams alumni will be honored. I look forward to celebrating Ms. Brangman’s accomplishments that night and hope to see the community come out and support our T.C. Williams students, too.

As a child, Ms. Brangman said she was “more of a Lego kid than a Barbie girl.” She dreamed of architecture and buildings that would have a lasting impact on their communities. Armed with a dual major in economics and Spanish and a minor in architecture from the University of Virginia, Ms. Brangman was assistant project manager in the development of The Station at Potomac Yard, a multi-use complex that incorporates a LEED certified fire station, retail space and 64 workforce and low-income apartments.

Making a difference for this community in this way is all the more sweet for Ms. Brangman because Alexandria gave her the chance to go to college with a scholarship from the Scholarship Fund of Alexandria.

Ms. Brangman’s story is not unique, but is just one of many successes sparked by a community objective to make sure that no qualified T.C. Williams grad would miss the opportunity to pursue higher education for want of funds. Since its founding 24 years ago, T.C. Williams alumni along with thousands of other individuals, businesses and foundations have come together behind this vision and provided more than $6.6 million in scholarships to 3,100 deserving graduating seniors.In fiscal year 2009, the fund awarded $360,000 to 201 graduates and another $430,000 in renewal scholarships to 211 returning undergraduates.

The SFA’s general fund offers need-based “gap” scholarships to supplement other grants and loans. Often these “last-dollar” scholarships mean the difference between going to college or not.TheWashington Postrecently reported that, “since 1980, the average cost of tuition and room and board has grown by a staggering 121 percent, while median household income has risen a mere 18 percent.” The need for the Scholarship Fund’s support grows every year.

The Scholarship Fund was one of the first community-based college access programs in the nation. Just this past fall, the Scholarship Fund and the Alexandria School Board reaffirmed our public-private partnership by signing a memorandum of understanding recognizing the important role of the fund in promoting educational excellence for our students. SFA’s success is evidenced not only by the accomplishments of the scholars we have funded, but by the attention the Fund has garnered from other communities around the country seeking to replicate its impact.By supporting the fund, we are all building Alexandria’s future together.

Ms. Brangman and four other Titan alumni scholarship recipients Brandon Alexander (’98), Zohra Atmar (’99), Molly Fitzgerald (’88), and Pongsak “Tony” Tiengtum (’92) will be honored at the SFA’s annual fundraising gala on May 8. Visit www.alexscholarshipfund.orgto read their stories and find more information on ways you can join me in supporting the Scholarship Fund of Alexandria.

As chairwoman of the Alexandria School Board and proud parent of a T.C. Williams freshman and George Washington Middle School sixth-grader, I will support the Scholarship Fund and our students by attending the May 8 fundraising gala.I hope to see you there, too.

Yvonne Folkerts

Chairwoman, Alexandria School Board

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