Most scholarships are typically awarded to students with unique talents, exceptional grades or dire financial need but not so for 100 Women Making a Difference of Orange County.
Members of 100 Women seek out and award students they believe have the potential to make a difference in the future even without a high grade point average.
"We're not a traditional scholarship," said Joan Sabatino, who started the organization in 2009. "We're looking for someone who will make an impact in the future. They're caring, insightful and going to making a difference."
The nonprofit has awarded more than $570,000 in grants and scholarships in New Jersey, Illinois and recently through its newest chapter in Orange County, which held its inaugural award ceremony April 27.
The group is unique in that it does not hold meetings or fundraising events so as to avoid costly overhead, Sabatino said.
"I was completely and totally frustrated with all the hours spent on nonsensical committee meetings, fighting over postage stamps and what color napkins to use for fundraising events," she said. "I knew there had to be a better way."
Each woman in the nonprofit contributes a minimum of $1,000 and has the option to attend an annual awards dinner in the spring at an additional charge. No other fundraising efforts are undertaken.
Each year, members nominate local nonprofit groups and get one vote in the award selection process, regardless of the size of her donation.
The Orange County Chapter, currently with 65 members, awarded $69,000 in grants to four local nonprofits this year:
•$25,000 to the Caterina's Club in Santa Ana
•$19,000 to the Boys Hope Girls Hope of Southern California in Irvine
•$15,000 to Human Options in Irvine
•$10,000 to the Orange County Rescue Mission in Tustin
A $10,000 college scholarship was also awarded to Irvine's University High School student Julia Cannata, who plans to attend Cal Poly San Louis Obispo in the fall to study city planning.
Recipients receive $10,000 for four years provided they stay involved with the organization and meet the scholarship criteria, Sabatino said.
Academic scholarship applicants need to submit two letters of recommendation and a 500-word personal essay and maintain a 2.0 grade point average. For other specific requirements, visit http://www.onehundredw.com.
"The impact of my $1,000 combined with everyone else's $1,000 was incredible," said Irvine resident and Orange County chapter board member Julie Sambuco. "What happened couldn't have happened with my $1,000 alone."
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