Community Pulse: Community Foundation of Grundy County offers scholarships for every student

Devan Gagliardo, Program Director, Community Foundation of Grundy County

I grew up in a blue collar family; the daughter of a farmer/construction worker and a grocery store deli manager. Like most parents, my parents wanted better for my brother and me. My parents wanted their kids to be more educated than they were, go farther in their careers, and be more financially sound than they were. Having been a parent for a short 9-year period, I feel this already.

What my parents realized and clearly understood is that they were raising two completely different children with two completely different skill sets and two completely different tolerances for academics. There is my brother who couldn’t wait to get out of school, has always worked in physical jobs that find him outside in the elements, and to this day loves sitting in a snowy cold field waiting for a duck to fly. And then there is me who cried all the way home from the last day of kindergarten because the year was over, and so began my love of school that continued all the way through college. Unlike, my brother, I have always worked in an office setting, where it is nice and warm.

My parents didn’t need to attend a parenting workshop or read a book to tell them their children were on two different career paths. They talked to my brother about vocational school and the trades while at the same time talking to me about college. As I said, I came from a blue collar family, so the trades were something my family was familiar with and knew well. But college … now that was a new path for my family. How do you choose a major? Where do you even start looking? How in the world are we going to pay for this? So many questions that had to be worked through. One thing my family did was look for and complete all scholarships I qualified for and was lucky enough to be a recipient of two or three. Every little bit helped!

It has been 22 years since I was combing through scholarships. In those 22 years there has been a greater awareness of getting students college and career-ready, not just college ready. There has been a greater awareness that scholarships could benefit students going into all careers whether business, medicine, or trade. We also began to see that those adult learners going back to school need scholarships as do students trying to finish their degrees.

Thanks to generous donors in the community, the Community Foundation of Grundy County has several options for students looking for scholarships. The following are a listing of the scholarships we manage in-house at the Community Foundation.

  • The Jacob R. Perry Music & Performing Arts Memorial offers $1,000 to a senior(s) at Morris High School who are planning to major in theater or the arts or participate in collegiate extracurriculars such as band, theatre, etc.
  • The Charles “Pete” Muffler Scholarship for Fire Science is a $1,000 scholarship open to Grundy Area Vocational Center seniors planning a career in fire science.
  • The Grabowski/Olson Automotive Scholarship will offer two $500 scholarships to seniors from Grundy Area Vocational Center who plan to attend a high education institution majoring in an automotive field.
  • The McCormack-Hill Scholarship is open to seniors from Seneca High School planning to major in education or the trades and will offer a $1,000 scholarship for up to four seniors.
  • The Char & Mike Farrell Scholarships are open to college juniors or seniors already enrolled in a college or university who are majoring in education or journalism. A $10,000 scholarship will be provided to one education major and a $10,000 scholarship will be provided to one journalism major.

In addition, we house the funds for many other scholarships through our local high schools. If you have a high school senior, I would highly recommend talking with their school guidance counselor to find out what scholarships they have access to that your student may qualify for. The deadline for most scholarships is end of March beginning of April!

For information on any of our scholarships please visit our website,, or contact us at 815-941-0852.

  • Devan Gagliardo is the Program Director for the Community Foundation of Grundy County. Community Pulse is a weekly column that provides a dedicated space for Grundy County-area nonprofits, schools and organizations to share news and information about their organization.