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Catherine and David Stewart are not “newbies” to the world of philanthropy. On any given day, you might find them engaging with organizations such as First Books of Beaufort or Alliance of Therapy Dogs Animals make Reading Fun Program (ARF!), or serving on the boards of local organizations like Hopeful Horizons.
We met this service-minded couple when they came to Coastal Community Foundation to discuss the creation of a scholarship fund inspired by the film Hidden Figures.
The true story—about a group of female African American ‘math wizards’ working in the early 1960s for what would become NASA—addresses the issues of racial and gender inequity which still permeate STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields today.
When they saw the film, the Stewarts were inspired and wanted to spread that inspiration. They thought, “There’s got to be some positive way to help people see this movie – for us to make a greater impact.” They began by meeting with Beaufort educators and making certain every school within Beaufort County School District received two DVDs of Hidden Figures, purchasing and delivering 68 discs to all 34 schools within the District. “We were prepared to handle this cost,” said David Stewart, “but we wondered—what else we could do to make a bigger impact on the students in our community?”
They found their answer to heightened impact through endowed philanthropy here at CCF.
Once fully funded, their endowment with us will cover two annual STEM Scholarships for graduating seniors in Beaufort County. News about the Stewart’s efforts went public in December, and last month they hosted their first community fundraiser – a wine auction that raised $3,600 for the fund.
“In the space of two hours, friends and family helped us max out our initial $10,000 goal for the scholarship fund,” said David and Catherine. Come this time next year, the couple expects their on-going fundraising efforts will allow the fund to grant its first scholarship.
“CCF has various types of scholarship programs – what we’re putting together is a legacy program that will be around long after we have passed on,” said David. The Hidden Figures STEM Scholarship Program will continue granting out these scholarships forever. We like the sound of that.”
According to MDC’s recent State of the South report, a focus on STEM education and improving access to post-secondary education are decisive factors in changing upward mobility prospects. This is important for all high school graduates, especially those who are historically underrepresented in STEM fields.
What are the Stewarts most excited about? “This scholarship is going to benefit students not just in the city of Beaufort, but throughout the whole county.”
CCF is thrilled to be a part of the growth of this program, and its investment in local students in coming years. To contribute to this fund, visit www.coastalcommunityfoundation.org/donate-today.