OKLAHOMA CAPITOL --The Oklahoma Commission for Human Services awarded post-secondary scholarships totaling $49,000 to 29 Oklahoma students for the 2000-2001 academic year.
The scholarships are part of the Mary Louise Hartpence Scholarship Fund. Hartpence, a longtime employee of the Department of Human Services, died in 1983 and left her $300,000 estate in trust to be used as a scholarship fund for children in OKDHS custody.
"These scholarships mean so much to these young people," said Claudia Hunter, State Independent Living Coordinator for OKDHS. "Since foster youth don’t have a family to help them with the expense of gaining an education, this scholarship allows them the opportunity to reach their goals for the future."
Since its inception, these scholarships have benefited 184 youth in their pursuit of higher education. To date, 21 recipients have earned bachelor degrees; seven have pursued graduate study in law, medicine, dentistry, social work and psychology. Also, two recipients have earned associate degrees; one completed nurse’s training and three have completed a two-year technical course.
This year, 16 first- and second-year students will each receive $1,000 scholarships, six third-year students will each receive $2,000 and seven fourth-year students will each receive $3,000. To qualify, all students must maintain a 2.0 grade average or better.
An increase in foster children in Oklahoma who apply for this scholarship has contributed to a depletion of funds. As of July 1, 2000, the available balance of the Hartpence Scholarship Fund was less than $36,000.
To supplement the scholarship fund, state monies allocated last year to one of the department’s Independent Living contractors will be used prior to the contract’s expiration. Also, the OKDHS Division of Children and Family Services allocated money from their budget to cover the new recipients and to minimize the use of the trust fund monies.
The Oklahoma Commission for Human Services acts as trustee for the Mary Louise Hartpence Scholarship Fund. This is the 15th group to receive the Hartpence Scholarship. Hartpence was a 32-year veteran of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services who’s last gesture of kindness will continue to touch the lives of young people for years to come.
If you would like to contribute to the Mary Louise Hartpence Scholarship Fund, please send donations to the Oklahoma Human Services Foundation c/o the Hartpence Scholarship Fund, PO Box 52946, Oklahoma City, OK 73152-2146. Please make sure that all donations are clearly marked for the Hartpence Scholarship Fund. If you would like to know more about becoming a foster parent, call 1-800-376-9729.