Dollars for Scholars Provides Emergency Aid for Hurricane Sandy Victims

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07 DEC 2012
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Communities up and down the Eastern Seaboard were impacted by Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath this fall; among the hardest hit was the New York City borough of Staten Island, where hundreds of homes and businesses were totally or nearly destroyed, and thousands of people had to cope with the devastating effects of the storm.

Fortunately for students who were affected by the storm, Staten Island ACHIEVE Dollars for Scholars was there to help within days. Chapter President Patrick Ryan and his brother, Scholarship America Board Chair Michael Ryan, contributed $25,000 to kick off a Hurricane Sandy Emergency Grant Assistance program within the chapter. Their local newspaper, the Staten Island Advance, took an interest, publishing an article that featured the work of Staten Island ACHIEVE Dollars for Scholars and spread the word of the emergency grant for Sandy victims. As a result of this publicity and other efforts, the chapter was able to raise more than $50,000 in additional funding from donors and start issuing grants of $200 per affected student almost immediately.

"The grants will assist high school students with replacing textbooks, uniforms and basic school supplies that have been lost or totally destroyed, so that students can continue to pursue their secondary educations ... consistent with the chapter's mission of supporting Staten Island high school students in their efforts to acquire postsecondary education," says Lynne Zervas, Area Director for Dollars for Scholars chapters in the Northeast.

"Staten Island ACHIEVE has been awarding renewable college scholarships to students for seven years and has awarded over $500,000 since inception. Given how many students lost their homes as a result of the storm, or faced the challenge of returning to school without books, school supplies, uniforms or athletic equipment, we felt that it was necessary to provide emergency assistance grants to students right now so they could stay on track to pursue their college dreams," Michael Ryan says.

"In addition to the assistance grants, in the Spring of 2013, we expect to make several $10,000 ACHIEVE Obstacle awards to students entering college who are dealing with the devastating effects of Sandy," Patrick Ryan adds. "Each year, our chapter makes a number of four year, renewable Obstacle awards to winners who have overcome significant personal hardships in their young lives. These amazing students inspire us to continue the work of Staten Island ACHIEVE."

As a Scholarship America-affiliated 501(c)(3), the chapter was able to start accepting donations to the fund almost immediately, including donations made by credit card, wire transfer and donor advised fund grants, all processed by Scholarship America's national office and forwarded to the chapter. They are also continuing their outreach and seeking matching gifts of cash, materials, volunteer time and gifts in kind, as they help Staten Island students get back to high school life as usual.

The rebuilding process all along the east coast is a huge effort, and Scholarship America Dollars for Scholars is committed to helping however we can. If you would like to get in touch with Staten Island ACHIEVE Dollars for Scholars and find out more about their efforts, just email Patrick Ryan at

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About Scholarship America
Scholarship America mobilizes support for students getting into and graduating from college. Since 1958, Scholarship America has distributed more than $2.9 billion in scholarship assistance to more than 1.9 million students, funding both entry-level and multi-year scholarships and emergency financial grants. More information is available at

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