In 1965 a group of 15 Rossmoor residents chaired by Mr. Harry Brooks met to create the Rossmoor Residents Scholarship Foundation of Walnut Creek. They agreed upon the founding documents and the articles of incorporation and filed them with the state of California. They intended to create a 501.C.3 organization that would make it their donations tax deducible. Of note is that the foundation was also to develop an investment account to augment donations and that this fund was to have perpetual existence. Two committees were formed: one to determine eligibility of prospective applicants and one to recommend on financial affairs. Five years later the articles were amended to change the name to the Rossmoor Scholarship Foundation.
Fifty years ago, in 1967, the first scholarships, $300 each, were given to 5 students. 50 applications were received and 30 students were interviewed. The awards went to Del Valle High School and to Diablo Valley College students. Las Lomas students were also eligible. Over the next 50 years the amount and number of scholarships gradually increased both due to the generosity of our donors (including some grants and bequests) and the success of our investment account. We have progressed from $300 awards to $3000 awards; and in May of 2017, in honor of our 50th Anniversary, we gave 50 scholarships. Currently, Rossmoor Scholarship Foundation consists of 27 trustees, all volunteers, who share the work of the Foundation. RSF still awards scholarships to DVC and Las Lomas students as well as students of 6 other local high schools. We still receive many more applications than we are able to award scholarships. However, trustee teams interview all the qualified applicants. In 2020, one of the Rossmoor Scholarships became the Rossmoor Employee or Employee Child Award, which allows us to give back to those who work hard to serve our community.
In 2008, a RSF trustee, Nada Neumann, an immigrant who felt strongly about the power of education, and who had received scholarships herself when she first came the U.S., began giving scholarships for students interested in foreign relations. Nada had taught French and worked for the American Field Service; she knew the importance of US relations with other countries. Subsequently over ten years, 10 students received $10,000 each to pursue their global interests.
Recognizing community need early on, the Foundation took on the responsibility of helping clubs such as Rotary and Kiwanis and individuals such as the Kaplan family select scholarship recipients. Currently Rotary gives the Foundation $12,000 each year to select 4 recipients for Rotary Scholarships. We are very grateful for this partnership. Also of great significance to the organization is the ability to make what we call add-on scholarships. The students first have to qualify for a Rossmoor Scholarship, then they meet special additional requirements to receive an additional add-on amount of $2500 making their total award $5500.
In 2006 Sylvia Kaplan’s family gave RSF a generous donation as a memorial for their mother, who had served as a RSF trustee some years before that. Before coming to Rossmoor she had been very active for many years in community service in Rochester Monroe County, New York, where she won the Rotary “Woman of the Year” award in 1969. Therefore, it was determined this money would be given to students active in community service. This was the beginning of Add-On Scholarships. The money given by this family, which has been invested, continues to provide $5000 a year for two $2500 Add-on scholarships each year.
In 2012 Betty Hagstrom, also a former RSF trustee, began presenting two Add-On Scholarships for high school students intending to pursue a career in the medical field. Recently, Betty has added additional funds to include a DVC student so currently three students receive The Calvin Hagstrom Family Trust Award each year. Betty finds it very meaningful to read all the essays submitted for her awards and loves meeting those students selected for the honor.
Dr. Nagendra Reddy, a retired researcher at UCLA who lived in Rossmoor for a time, gave The Reddy Biological Science Awards (add-on scholarships) in years 2015-2017 to students interested in biology and/or research.
In 2017 the daughters of Eleana Peratis initiated The Eleana Peratis Woman in STEM Award. This is given to a woman interest in science, technology, engineering, or math. Eleana’s daughters, provide the prompt for the essay, read all the essays, and enjoy the experience a great deal because the prompt always requires students to imagine what will happen in the future in a given scientific area. Eleana was also a RSF trustee, and her daughters continue funding this award.
Over the past several years, Rossmoor groups and other individuals have become active in this project. In 2017, the first Chinese American Association of Rossmoor Award was given to a student interested in studying an aspect of Chinese culture. The first Computer Club of Rossmoor Awards were given to two students in 2018 interested in Computer Studies. Rossmoor Chamber Music Society also gave their first Award in 2018 for a musician going on to continue in instrumental music in college. In 2019 and 2020 John Kikuchi, a former RSF trustee, gave The Ryoichi Kikuchi Award in honor of his father a renowned physicist. The award was given to a DVC student first in his family to attend college. Also in 2019, RSF trustee, Lois La Shell initiated The Eleanor Knapp Single Mother’s Award in honor of her mother. It is awarded to a single mother attending DVC. In 2020 The Blount Family Award was also given to a DVC student first in the family to attend college. Many of these awards continue to be funded each year.
All of these generous donors made it possible to award thirteen Add-On Scholarships in 2020 for a total of $32,500. This is in addition to the 56 Rossmoor Scholarships, which meant that $200,500 was awarded in scholarship money in the spring of 2020. Some of the regular Rossmoor Scholarships were funded entirely by groups or individuals: four by Rotary, two from the Big Band of Rossmoor Concert, a Joe Anthony Memorial Award, a Rossmoor Chamber Music Society Award, and one sponsored by Penny Itner.
Also beginning in 2012 a separate program coordinated with The Waterford. Residents there donate to give scholarships to Waterford wait-staff. (These are young people who work in the dining room serving the residents living at The Waterford.) These students, who often find it difficult to find the funds needed to continue their education, are most appreciative of these awards.
In 2020 the first Rossmoor Employee or Employee Child Award was given It is a full Rossmoor Foundation Scholarship of $3000 awarded to an Employee or Employee's Child in appreciation for the work our employees do to make life in Rossmoor so pleasant.
Since 1967 RSF has awarded almost $3.4 million in scholarships to more than 1800 students. Over these more than 50 years, many on the board of trustees have guided and worked tirelessly on behalf of the Foundation. However, awarding scholarships to talented, academically successful students who need help financing their higher education has given trustees a great sense of satisfaction and pride. It is interesting to note that often students appreciate the boost of self-confidence that a scholarship gives them as much as the money that comes with the award. This new “sense of believing they can do what they have set out to do” works to their advantage all their lives.