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2021 PbS Scholarship Winners Paying it Forward

They are future engineers and entrepreneurs, artists and athletic trainers, mechanics and mathematicians. The youths who applied to the 2021 PbS Scholarship Award expressed a wide range of ambitions and aspirations in their applications to advance their educational goals. But a common thread ran through every youth application: Hope. Hope for opportunities, hope to create a meaningful life and hope to give back.

Many of the young people who applied wanted to contribute to helping others. “Someone gave me a chance and I want to give back to those who need it,” one applicant wrote. He hopes to set a positive example for his little sister by prioritizing his studies and earning a bachelor’s degree. Another young man dreams of creating an empowerment program “to help assist youths in redirecting their lives.” The program would guide youths in applying for jobs and academic programs, as well as managing income and building credit. “I will use my learned knowledge to educate and motivate,” he wrote.

The PbS Scholarship Award is also granted to facility staff in recognition of the work they do in delivering better outcomes for youths. This year’s pool of staff applicants included teachers, social workers, correctional officers and administrators and was equally impressive. Staff applicants largely reflected on ever-present racial injustices in the country and expressed a desire to learn more about supporting young people of color and their families. A record-breaking number of staff applied for the award, making the task of the PbS Education and Employment Foundation Advisory Board to select recipients even more difficult.

Among the youth and staff applicants were English language learners, first-generation college students, single parents and many personally affected and feeling the impact of COVID-19. The Advisory Board judges were impressed with the applicants’ commitment to academic and professional pursuits in the midst of personal challenges.

This year, thanks to an additional $10,000 for youth scholarships from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, we were able to award more applicants than any other year since the PbS Scholarship Fund’s establishment in 2016:

  • A student from Bridge City Center for Youth, LA, will attend Delgado Community College to study civil engineering;
  • A student from Illinois Youth Center - St. Charles Correction, IL, is earning a Custodial Technician certificate at Lake Land College;
  • A student from Illinois Youth Center - Warrenville Male General Population, IL, intends to study business at Northern Illinois University;
  • A student from Robert F. Kennedy School, MA, will prepare for a career in business at Bunker Hill Community College;
  • A student from McLaughlin Youth Center, AK, will pursue kinesiology with an emphasis on sports medicine at Washington State University at Pullman;
  • A student from Southeast Secure Treatment, MA, has plans to earn an associate degree in automotive engineering;
  • Betsey Davis, a social worker at Long Creek Youth Development Center, ME, is working toward a graduate certificate in Substance Use Disorders at the University of Maine at Augusta;
  • Jennifer Adams, a teacher at the L.B. Wallace School located at Mt. Meigs Campus, AL, is earning a master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Alabama State University;
  • Kimberly Lagarde, a Safety Officer at Bridge City Center for Youth, LA, is pursuing a graduate degree in Counseling from the University of Holy Cross in New Orleans;
  • Nina Smith-Jones, an Administrative Assistant at Center for Human Development Secure Residential Treatment, MA, is studying Human Services and Criminal Justice at Springfield College; and
  • Tasneem Doriwala, a Special Education Teacher at Illinois Youth Center - Warrenville Male and Female General Population, IL, will pursue an English as a Second Language Endorsement from Dominican University.

We wish the award recipients much success with their educational endeavors. If you are interested in supporting youths and staff from PbS participating facilities and programs, find out how you can contribute by visiting the PbS Education and Employment Foundation website.

About the author

Erin Condon

Erin Condon

Erin Condon (she/her/hers) is a Program Assistant at the PbS Learning Institute.

PbS has been a partner in assisting this facility to become a dynamic work environment that is not satisfied with maintaining the status quo.