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San Fernando
Wednesday, Jun 7, 2023

Fernando is Funding the Future

Scholarships have played a fundamental role in the Fernando Award Foundation Inc. for the past decade. The foundation, which celebrates volunteerism in the San Fernando Valley, uses event proceeds to issue about ten scholarships to high school and community college students annually. Today, scholarships remain the primary method by which the foundation makes a direct contribution to the community. “The scholarships are awarded to the most deserving Valley graduating students based on their participation in community activities and their volunteerism,” said scholarship chairman Karl Boeckmann. “The scholarships certainly give them a foot up on going to college, particularly the first year.” The scholarship has the distinction of being one of the few with no grade point average delineation. “It’s strictly based on how you help other people,” Boeckmann explained. Each year, the foundation gives out 10 scholarships, nine of which amount to $1,000 and one for $2,000. Normally, between 60 and 70 students apply for the scholarships annually, according to Tom Soule, who has been Fernando treasurer for 10 years and has also served as president of the foundation. Contacting high schools To find qualified students, the foundation sends information out to guidance counselors at area high schools. “They work with students in the schools they think are worthy and have done a lot of volunteer work,” Soule said. Scholarship winners don’t have to attend a four-year college. Those headed to community college or trade schools may also receive scholarships. “Generally, we find that the students are also involved in their churches and temples, but it’s definitely not required,” Soule said. “They just seem to be very well-rounded, good in their schools. A lot of them start new organizations that help people.” This was the case for 2008 scholarship recipients Niminde and Jeneeka Perera. The fraternal twins and graduates of Chaminade College Prep in West Hills began an organization called ECS World to provide relief to tsunami victims. The twins are now enrolled at California State University, Northridge. Niminde Perera will study electrical engineering, while Jeneeka Perera will study animal science. “It helps me greatly as far as Cal State’s tuition. It’s going to help me a lot,” Niminde Perera said of the Fernando scholarship. Jeneeka Perera is grateful that the award has brought awareness to her and her brother’s efforts towards tsumani relief, which they have been involved in since their freshman year of high school. “It was a really nice, big surprise for us, a huge award,” she said. “I wasn’t sure how far it would go.” Scholarship funds The scholarships are funded by the proceeds the Fernando Foundation earns from dinners and other events. The foundation has considered using event proceeds to make contributions to the community other than scholarships, but “nothing has come to fruition at this point,” Soule said. For now, the remaining proceeds go toward running the foundation, as the 10 to 15 individuals and about 20 board members who run the foundation receive no compensation for their work. The foundation also has no plans to increase the dollar amount of the scholarships it gives out. Instead, Boeckmann said that he would rather give out scholarships to more students because of how tough the first year of college is. He especially aims to help volunteer-minded students with scholarships. He explained, “If you’re out there helping other people, that’s pretty much what it’s all about in life.”

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