Non Profit – The Santa Clarita Valley Scholarship Foundation, A Local Tradition since 1951
by Elaine Foderaro
The Santa Clarita Valley Scholarship Foundation, originally founded in 1951, is one of the oldest non-profit organizations in Santa Clarita. It is managed and operated 100 percent by volunteers, with an investment of 10,000-plus volunteer hours per year.
The SCVSF’s mission is to reward excellence and to encourage continuing education. The motto is “Helping Today’s Scholarships Become Tomorrow’s Leaders.” More than $3.7 million have been awarded to local students since its incorporation in 1977. For the Class of 2017, nearly a quarter of a million dollars was awarded to 147 graduating seniors in the Hart District. Funding is provided by the generosity of local businesses, individuals, community organizations and those honoring friends and loved ones through memorial scholarships. The number of scholarships available varies at each high school site. Many sponsors/donors select the school they prefer to have their scholarship awarded.
People who knew the SCVSF founders described Walter and Gertrude Baugher as warm, friendly people who had no children of their own. They were wealthy in the eyes of their fellow Mint Canyon homesteaders.
Gertrude received a large inheritance from her brother when he passed away, and the couple lived frugally. They were generous with others and very discreetly helped the neighborhood children, providing money for school supplies and necessities so they could remain in school. In 1951, they founded the William S. Hart Union High School District Scholarship and Loan Foundation with the help of their friend, Judge MacDougall.
In 1964, a trust fund of $20,000 was invested to provide annual scholarships to students at each school in the District. After Gertrude’s death in 1975, additional funds were added to the trust and the Hart School Board recommended that the Foundation’s operations be separated from the District.
On July 27, 1977, the Santa Clarita Valley Scholarship Foundation was incorporated as a 501(c)(3), a federal and state tax-exempt non-profit corporation, which enables donors to claim tax deductions. In keeping with the original charter, the Foundation has a symbiotic relationship with the WSHUSD.
In 1981, the Henry Mayo Newhall Family Foundation began funding scholarships, which are administered by the SCVSF. Following an interview selection of graduating seniors recommended by their comprehensive and alternative high schools, the recipients are awarded scholarships at their respective senior awards presentations in May. The scholarships at each comprehensive school are one at $5,000, two at $4,000, two at $3,000, and two at $2,500. There is one at $1,250 at each alternative site.
The SCVSF expresses appreciation to the Newhall family and community members who fund the scholarships in “helping today’s scholarship become tomorrow’s leaders.”
Hero of the Week – Connie Hertenstein
Connie Hertenstein, counselor at William S. Hart High School, recalls attending her first meeting with the Santa Clarita Valley Scholarship Foundation (SFVSC) in 1995.
“I remember meeting in Sandy Hurley’s living room with a group whose motto was: “We do it for the kids.” The sole focus was to inspire students to step up to the challenge of post high school education with the hope that they would give back to others in the future.
Connie was hired as a special education teacher at Hart High School in 1989. After teaching for seven years, she became a counselor in 1995 and remained at Hart.
Laurence Strauss, principal of Hart from 1983-1997, hired Connie for both job assignments. “She is kind, caring, and has provided wise, effective guidance to hundreds of her counselees,” Strauss said. “She does not seek approval or recognition for her effective daily work on behalf of students; without hesitation, I would entrust my children’s academic and personal guidance to Connie Hertenstein.”
In addition to her responsibilities as a counselor, Connie represents Hart High as a member of the Santa Clarita Valley Scholarship Foundation. Her SCVSF responsibilities begin in the fall to include advertising scholarships through Hart TV and the senior classes. She oversees the responsibilities of ensuring the seniors download the applications when available beginning December 1. For the students who do not have access to a computer, she prints hard copies.
After the applications are collected February 1, transcripts are attached, and names of applicants are forwarded to selected Hart staff members for consideration for the Newhall interview process. Following the input of the total staff as a baseline, Connie meets with the representatives from each department to select the eight nominees for the Newhall interviews conducted by the SCVSF. Invitations are distributed to each of the eight Newhall interviewees with the process explained regarding the interview, expectations, and appropriate attire.
“I love giving out the invitations and seeing the kids glow,” Connie said.
For some of these applicants, this is the first time they will have interviewed before a committee comprised of local community members, retired Hart District employees, and high school counselors.
Connie attends all the SCVSF meetings, which are held four times a year. At the March meeting she volunteers to be part of the Selection Committee to assist in choosing the recipients for a specific school. Counselors do not select students from their own schools, nor from any schools where they have an affiliation.
The scholarships are presented at the invitation-only senior awards nights at each high school in the Hart District. The SCVSF board attends each of the 10 high schools’ awards programs to present a total of 150+ scholarships.
“The only downside is that many of the Foundation’s members wish there was more money, because there are so many incredible kids in Santa Clarita!” Connie said.
Connie Hertenstein and her husband, John, a payroll accountant for CBS Television and a real estate agent, have lived in Santa Clarita for 34 years. They have two daughters who both graduated from Canyon High School, Nicole in 2007 and Courtney in 2011. Both continued their educations at Pepperdine University, where Nicole studied political science and Courtney majored in integrated marketing communications.
brought to you by: