Dr. Zachary Hodges (left), President, HCC Northwest; Hunter Clay, Stratford High School graduate and Chapelwood Foundation scholarship recipient; Teresa Cannon, Executive Director, Chapelwood Foundation; and Dr. Scott Muri, Superintendent, Spring Branch ISD.
The Chapelwood Foundation’s biannual “Path With a Purpose” scholarship luncheon on Oct. 18 at Chapelwood United Methodist Church honored recent collegiate recipients while building awareness of the transformative community outreach program.
Several Spring Branch ISD students were recognized during the luncheon and program, including Hunter Clay, a Stratford High School graduate who has been able to pursue a college degree because of help from the Chapelwood Foundation.
The Foundation’s Scholarship Program targets and identifies highly performing Houston area high school students who lack the financial resources necessary to attend college and take the next step to higher education.
SBISD Superintendent Dr. Scott Muri spoke regarding the strong partnership between the district and Chapelwood United Methodist Church, and the specific ways in which the program fills the void for these students.
“Spring Branch ISD is incredibly fortunate that Chapelwood United Methodist Church and its members place a high priority on investing in the education of our 35,000 students,” Muri said. “The Foundation’s deep and sustained generosity to fill both financial and resource gaps through college scholarships and mentoring assures that more of our graduates fulfill their potential and helps us meet our T-2-4 goal for Every Child. “Muri spoke of the “village” and how Every Child can benefit from his or her village. “Because of this ministry at Chapelwood,” he said, “many more of our children have the right people in their village.”
Current scholarship recipient Hunter Clay spoke about the impact the support of the Foundation has had on his life. A former Stratford High School (SBISD) student, Hunter is putting himself through school and is attending Blinn College and will transfer to Sam Houston State to major in accounting.
“Without the support from the Foundation, I truly do not know where I would be today,” Clay said. “More than just the money, the Foundation has provided such a network of people to guide me to where I want to go and how to get there. Everyone should be given a chance to attain higher education no matter the situation or background they have.”
Another SBISD student, Northbrook High School graduate Elizabeth Torres Santiago, spoke via video about her gratitude for the Chapelwood Foundation and the help provided her. A student at the Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Houston and the first in her family to go to college, Santiago said that it’s important to her that her 4-year-old sister both sees her in college and sees her graduate.
The keynote address, “Reflections on Higher Education,” was given by Dr. Zachary R. Hodges, President of Houston Community College-Northwest, which includes HCC’s Spring Branch campus. Hodges said that “human capital development equals economic development, which equals community development. The more people (earn), the more they give back … why wouldn’t we want everybody to go to college?”
Since its inception in 2005, the Foundation Scholarship Program has awarded approximately $765,528 in scholarships to 186 student scholars providing them with much needed assistance to reach their higher education goals. Foundation scholarships are offered for the entire college experience and are renewable each semester if the student maintains a 2.5 GPA and participates in a community service project.
All students in the Foundation’s Scholarship Program have a connection to either a Chapelwood member or a Chapelwood ministry. The majority of the students in the program come from the Collegiate Challenge Program at Northbrook High School in Spring Branch ISD in which mentors are assigned to students and help them navigate the college admissions and scholarship application process. Criteria for student applicants includes stellar academic achievement as well as a high level of financial need. Although the majority of recipients come from SBISD, students from Katy ISD, Cypress-Fairbanks ISD and Aldine ISD are also represented.
“As Executive Director of the Foundation, I have had the privilege of walking beside and glimpsing the amazing character of these hard-working, motivated, courageous students as they daily take the difficult steps to move beyond the limitations imposed by poverty and life circumstances,” said Teresa Cannon. “They are changing the world for themselves individually as well as for their families for generations to come as many are the first in their family to attend college.”
The Chapelwood Foundation is a permanent endowment program which serves as a ministry of Chapelwood United Methodist Church. Valued at more than $6 million dollars, the Foundation annually awards grants and scholarships of up to 5 percent of its three-year average assets to selected missions and ministries.