Wellesley Scholarship Foundation

History & Mission Statement

In 1950, a number of Wellesley's civic organizations became concerned that deserving young people in our town were being denied education beyond high school because of their inability to finance the entire cost. These organizations petitioned the Wellesley Community Council to study the problem and come up with a solution. A research committee of representative citizens spent many months collecting and analyzing factual data and, as a result of their comprehensive report, the Wellesley Scholarship Foundation, Inc., a Massachusetts Charitable Corporation, was founded and began its work.

The purpose of the WSF is to provide funds to deserving Wellesley students to make up the difference between the cost of college and what the students and their families can provide. This gap has been steadily widening over the years. But back in 1951, when the first two scholarships were awarded by WSF, $100 covered the cost of a full year of tuition. Two scholarships were given that first year, each in the amount of $100, so that two students could attend Framingham State College and the Katherine Gibbs School respectively. Note that back in those days, WSF was able to cover the full cost of tuition for each of these students for one year. The WSF was also created to consolidate scholarship fundraising and grant-making activities within the town, allowing civic organizations to pool their funds for one cause.

The initial contributions were made by or on behalf of almost every major civic organization in town. Contributions were made for decades by all town PTOs including the old Kingsbury, Perrin, Phillips, and Warren PTOs, along with those of all current elementary schools, the Middle School and High School. The Wellesley Teachers' Association was a constant contributor over the years, as was the Rotary Club of Wellesley, the Kiwanis Club of Wellesley, the Wellesley Club, the Wellesley Junior Service League, the Exchange Club of Wellesley, the Wellesley Boosters, the Jewish Community Group of Wellesley, the Key Club, the Lions Club, the Quota Club, the Republican Town Committee, the Wellesley Council of Garden Clubs, the Fund Frolics, and the Wellesley Newcomers Club. Rather than undertaking the enormous task of preparing, reviewing and analyzing applications and making scholarship allocations themselves, each of these organizations contributed their funds directly to the WSF, the community grant-making organization, and relied on the Foundation to make the appropriate scholarship awards. In 1951, its first full year of operation, the WSF received four applications for scholarships and awarded $200.

During the course of the first five years, the WSF was able to grant scholarship aid to about forty deserving Wellesley students at an average grant of around $140 per student. The average annual total of all scholarships awarded rose to about $1100. It soon became clear that something needed to be done to establish a permanent fund from which income could be derived each year to enhance annual donations to help pay for scholarships. In 1956, Wellesley resident Paul T. Babson proposed just such a fund and challenged the community: he would match, dollar for dollar, all contributions to the new Permanent Endowment Fund up to $25,000 made within the next year. The Wellesley community mobilized to meet the challenge. The principal and guidance counselors at Wellesley High School conducted a survey of the Class of 1956 to determine how many of the seniors wished to go on to further education and how many were financially able to do so. Of 175 students applying to college, 96 needed scholarship assistance. School and civic organizations once again rallied to the cause in 1956, as did many individual donors. Contributors to the Permanent Endowment Fund included all of the PTOs in town and all of the organizations which contributed at the creation of the WSF. In addition, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Community Playhouse, the Service Organization of Wellesley College and many other community organizations donated to the Permanent Endowment Fund. Individual donors included Katherine Bronson, Samuel Graves (Principal at the High School), George Burgess, Edith Perrin, Joseph Knowles, Sheridan Thorup, Edward Kilmain and many more. The challenge goal of $25,000 was met and Paul T. Babson, true to his word, matched it. The Permanent Endowment Fund was established in 1957 and initially funded with $50,300.

Today, the income from that Endowment Fund is combined with annual donations from Wellesley townspeople and organizations to provide the scholarship monies which are distributed to our Wellesley youth each year. In addition to raising money, evaluating applications and awarding scholarships, the WSF currently provides the Town of Wellesley Scholarship and Financial Aid Application to other town groups who wish to award scholarships, and serves as a source of computer support and analysis for some of these groups. WSF is now in its 63rd year and there is much to be proud of. Our endowment has increased and over the past 62 years the Foundation has awarded over 3,300 scholarships equaling over $4,686,500. While each year, the scholarship monies available for disbursement have increased, so has the need. The progress of the need-based awards can be shown in the following summary:

  • 1958 WSF awarded $   3,600  to 22 students
  • 1968 WSF awarded $ 11,000  to 45 students
  • 1978 WSF awarded $ 41,000  to 92 students
  • 1988 WSF awarded $ 91,000  to 74 students
  • 1998 WSF awarded $129,100 to 86 students
  • 2008 WSF awarded $229,000 to 72 students
  • 2009 WSF awarded $208,000 to 65 students
  • 2010 WSF awarded $225,000 to 67 students
  • 2011 WSF awarded $234,500 to 78 students
  • 2012 WSF awarded $238,500 to 75 students

Although in 2013 the WSF was able to award $238,500 to 76 students, the 119 applications received by the WSF reflected an additional financial need which we could not meet of over $645,000.

The goal of the WSF is to ensure that every Wellesley youth can pursue his or her dream of an education. Each year we raise more funds toward this goal. But each year the cost of tuition also rises. Devoting our energies to this unique and inspiring cause is the motivation of each trustee on the WSF Board.