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Trust commits $7.8 million for Nina Scholars


March 20, 2007

The Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust is committing $7.8 million over the next four years to fund college scholarships for students in Arizona and Indiana whom traditional scholarship programs typically overlook.

“This commitment of $7.8 million will provide scholarships to 168 more men and women over the next four years,” says Frank E. Russell, chairman of the Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust. “The Nina Scholars have faced incredible challenges in their lives, and many of the scholars we have met since the program began in 2001 have told us that, without the Nina Mason Pulliam Legacy Scholars program, they would not have realized the dream of a college education.”

The program extension includes full tuition, an annual $2,750 living allowance for each scholar, books, and class fees. It also covers the program's administrative cost and funding a full-time Nina Scholar coordinator at each school who provides counseling and assistance to the scholars.

The trust began making grants to Arizona nonprofits in 1998 and has distributed more than $62 million to 303 Arizona nonprofit organizations.

“The scholars program is a living legacy to Nina who believed that with an education, there was nothing an individual could not achieve,” says Pulliam's niece and trustee Carol Peden Schilling. “Nina Mason Pulliam was an advocate for education her entire life. She funded scholarships for employees' children and for children whom she learned were in need of assistance. The Nina Scholars program is a natural extension of the trust's mission of helping people in need. Nina had empathy for individuals who were dealt challenges in life.”

“Nina would have been so pleased about the program, because it provides people with the means for self-sufficiency through education,” says trustee Nancy M. Russell.

Nina Scholars are 25 years or older with dependents, college-age students and adults with physical disabilities, or college-age youth who were raised in the foster-care system and are self-supporting.

The trust launched the Nina Mason Pulliam Legacy Scholars program with ASU and Maricopa community colleges six years ago. Since that time, the scholars program has touched the lives of more than 100 men and women in Arizona . The program is offered in Indianapolis, where the trust also makes grants.

“Nina Scholars is a program that is there to help,” says Nina Scholar Nichole Townsend, who graduated from ASU with a 3.98 grade point average and is working at Mayo Clinic Hospital as an emergency room nurse. “It is not a program that wants to cut students who are having a difficult time, but will find resources and be supportive when times are tough. Our Nina Scholars coordinator was like having a social worker to help us navigate our way. It made a true difference.”

“The individuals the Nina Scholars program seeks to help face incredible barriers to obtaining higher education,” says Harriet Ivey, the trust's president and chief executive officer. “With the trust minimizing the economic barriers, and ASU and Maricopa community colleges providing special outreach and support to each Nina Scholar, together we believe we have a strong chance for success.

“With the creation of the Nina Scholars ‘Passport Program,' some of our Nina Scholars who begin their studies at Maricopa Community Colleges in Phoenix or Ivy Tech Community College in Indianapolis have opportunities to move to ASU or IUPUI (Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis), respectively, and earn their bachelor's degrees.”

“ASU is deeply honored to be entrusted with the stewardship of the program,” says Debra Friedman, dean of ASU's College of Public Programs . “To educate any student is a grave responsibility, but to join in the education of students whom life has dealt such trials is so much the greater privilege.”

Applications for the fall semester are available for the Nina Scholars program at ASU and Maricopa community colleges. Each year, the trust sponsors eight new students at ASU and 15 new students at Maricopa community colleges who are earning their first undergraduate degree.

The application deadline is April 1. For further information about applying to the Nina Scholars program, contact Cory Gonzales at (480) 727-6561 or (nina.scholars@asu.edu), or Susan Taffer at (480) 731-8619 or (nina.scholars@domail.maricopa.edu).

For more information about the Trust, visit the Web site (www.ninapulliamtrust.org).