Magnolia requests $25,000 from city

November 02, 2005|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

A nonprofit group has asked the city to give $25,000 to a scholarship program for students attending the University System of Maryland's downtown campus.

The group, called The Magnolia Foundation, expects to raise up to $425,000 for the scholarship fund. Half of the amount would come from an endowment fund administered by the Community Foundation of Washington County.

Gaye McGovern, representing The Magnolia Foundation, said the city could set parameters on how its portion of the scholarship money were used.


She suggested that the city name its scholarship after "a famous or beloved person who served the city government" - or anyone else.

"...[T]his gift would mean (the) City Council would be helping two people further their education each year once the thresholds in the matching challenge program are met," McGovern wrote in a letter to City Clerk Donna K. Spickler.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said Tuesday the council supports education, but should weigh the request against others it gets for the next budget. The scholarship money could compete with, for example, putting "food on people's tables," he said.

However, if the City Council tables the request until hearings for next year's budget, it wouldn't have an answer for several months, which Councilman Kristin B. Aleshire said was too long.

The request will be discussed at a future council workshop, although no date was given.

A University System of Maryland campus opened on West Washington Street in January.

Since then, about 1,000 students have taken in-person or online classes at the campus, which includes repeats, Executive Director C. David Warner III told the City Council on Tuesday.

More than 70 percent of the students need financial aid, compared with a national average of about 46 percent, McGovern said.

An endowment campaign will contribute up to $212,500 for local scholarships through a matching challenge.

Sixteen local nonprofit organizations, including The Magnolia Foundation, were chosen to raise more than $5 million in five years, to get a matching $5 million from the John M. Waltersdorf family and the Richard A. Henson Foundation.

The city, if it contributes, could make payments over a five-year period.

The Washington County Commissioners in September agreed to donate $25,000 to the scholarship program in a lump sum, according to a county meeting summary.

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