November 21, 2023 451 PM
MARFA –– Marfa Education Foundation (MEF) announced the opening of applications for scholarships to Marfa ISD graduates currently enrolled in their sophomore, junior, or senior year at an accredited college or trade school. Though 96% of Marfa ISD students graduate high school, only 18% complete college. Scholarships are intended to lessen the burden of financial hardships that may cause students to drop out.
Marfa ISD Coach Kevin Pippen graduated from Marfa ISD in 2018 and received a grant from MEF while enrolled at San Angelo State University. “Having the MEF scholarship available to help with my financial needs was a huge blessing. It helped minimize the stress all college students face by allowing me to solely focus on my school work without having to worry about the tuition bill,” said Pippen.
Last year, MEF awarded $30,000 in grants to 13 scholarship recipients. So far, MEF has secured $17,000 for scholarships this year, including a very generous donation from Marfa alum Vicki Pfeifer of El Paso. MEF is still accepting donations for scholarships. Tax-deductible donations can be made through their website.
The MEF Board met in October to set a budget for the 2023-24 school year. Included in the $245,350 budget are established programs such as robotics, dual college credit courses, Marfa Live Arts playwriting and performance classes, Marfa Studio of Arts supplies, new Chromebooks, the Guided Reading literacy program, more library books, and teacher grants for every teacher that submits an application. New additions to programming include a sensory room for the elementary school, much-needed improvements to the school auditorium, and iCVE, a program that allows juniors and seniors to earn certifications in vocations including hotel management, child development and nursing.
Most support comes through foundation grants or gifts from individuals. This year MEF has received $30,000 from the Rea Charitable Foundation, and $25,000 from the Permian Basin Area Foundation, with several other applications in the works or awaiting approval.
In their October meeting, the board also voted in officers for the year. Susan Kirr remains board president, Scott May assumed the role of vice president, Marilyn Sanders retained her position as treasurer, and recent addition to the board, Kate Calder, was voted in as secretary. The board also includes Vince Fuentez, Malinda Galindo, Joe Grajeda, Yazmine Guevara, and Annette Mendoza.
Recently, several board members were on hand at Marfa ISD to hand out stipends to teachers and staff before the Thanksgiving holiday. “There is no question that these folks go above and beyond for Marfa scholars, and we want to make sure they know how much we appreciate them,” said MEF Executive Director Abby Boyd. “Teacher retention is as important as any program we support at the school.”
Stipends were made possible through a generous gift from an anonymous donor. “MEF has relied on the community more this year than ever before. Many businesses and individuals have come through with donations for our scholarship program, and I think we’ll need to make sure the community is involved in our annual fundraising,” said Boyd. “The community really cares about the students, whether they have kids enrolled in the school or not.”
With recent cuts to public school funding and a substantial increase in the amount of funds recaptured from the district by the state, Boyd says they have no plans to slow down. “The need for support at the school is only going to grow. That’s why we’re here, to attempt to lessen that burden.”
More information about Marfa Education Foundation, applications for scholarships, and donations can be found on their website at www.marfaeducationfoundation.com.