Not long ago we came across a news story about a school in Aiken, SC that was benefiting from scholarship grants provided through a trust set up by Martha Schofield, a Bucks County PYM Friend. Of course we were curious, and so we emailed Friends Fiduciary, the trust administrator, with a series of questions. Out of that exchange came a conversation with Mimi Blackwell, Planned Giving Program Manager, at Friends Fiduciary.
We often think about impact over time, and also donor intentions. Both have been honored here, as you will see. Out of Martha Schofield’s philanthropy a public school was ultimately created, and a final redeployment of what were thought to be worthless bonds was redirected to become higher education scholarships.
This represents a strong sense of stewardship, and vision. PYM and Friends Fiduciary both administer granting programs that help people live out life long ambitions to make the world a better place. We can’t live forever, but we can set up programs that do.
Q: How have the Martha Schofield Scholarships changed over time?
A: Martha Schofield was born in 1839 in Bucks County, Pennsylvania and raised as a Quaker. At the age of 25, she decided to spend her life helping people who had been enslaved.
Martha went to work for The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, often called “The Freedmen’s Bureau.” In 1868 Martha established the Schofield School in Aiken, South Carolina, the first school for the benefit of African American youth.
Every child was taught the basic skills of reading, writing and math. However, boys learned additional skills such as how to be blacksmiths, shoemakers and carpenters, while girls were taught “home skills” like cooking and sewing.
Martha passed away in 1916 and (financing for the school she founded) after 82 years of operation, became increasingly unrealistic. After much study and consultation, arrangements were made to transfer the school, property, and cash assets of Schofield to the Aiken County Board of Education, for operation as a public school.
The Martha Schofield Junior High School still exists today and is a tribute to the vision of a young Quaker woman who was committed to making a meaningful education available to African American students.
Later, the Martha Schofield Scholarship Fund was established in 1952. This was done by using “found” money from what were thought to be worthless mortgage bonds held by the Schofield School trustees. The Fund began awarding scholarships to students in 1954.
The Fund awards scholarships to African American students who have attended Aiken County S.C. Schools and Martha Schofield Junior High School (preferably) and who plan to pursue education beyond high school. The primary evaluating criteria relied upon by the Schofield Distribution Committee is need.
The scholarships have changed very little over the almost 70-year history of the Fund.
Q: These are college scholarships, do you fund students for all four years? Or is it a one-time grant.
A: Scholarships are awarded for studies at universities, colleges, and institutions offering training in any vocation chosen by the students. Many students receive funding for 4 years or the duration of their program but must reapply each year.
Q: Do any of the recipients stay in touch – how have their lives changed?
A: This is not something that I know much about. However, I did notice in FFC’s internal history of the fund that although students are not required to repay the funding they receive, that has happened on occasion.
Q: How many students have you funded since you began distributions?
A: While that can vary based upon number of applications and size of individual awards, between 12-20 students receive scholarships from the Martha Schofield Scholarship Fund each year.
Interestingly, Friends Fiduciary Corporation serves as trustee for two other funds, established in the mid-19th Century by Quakers, to benefit students of color. The Emlen Institution Fund was established by the will of Samuel Emlen of Burlington, New Jersey who died in 1837. Although the language is rather dated, there is a clear purpose, “of founding or Supporting in one of the Non Slaveholding States of this Union or in the now British Territories of the Canadas in their discretion an Institution for the Education maintenance and Instruction in School learning and in Agriculture and Mechanic Trades or Arts” of children of African and Native American descent. Today the Emlen Institution supports African American and Native American students in several Quaker elementary schools that have racially diverse student bodies.
Richard Humphreys was born in the West Indies and immigrated to Philadelphia where he became a convinced Friend. He died in 1832 and in in his will he bequeathed $10,000 to 13 members of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Society of Friends for the purpose of establishing a school for “…instructing the descendants of the African Race in school learning, in the various branches of the mechanical arts and trades and in Agriculture…in order to prepare and fit and qualify them to act as teachers in such of those branches of useful business as in the Judgment of the said society they may appear best qualified for…”. The school was founded as the Institute for Colored Youth. In 1922, the State of Pennsylvania assumed control of the School, and the corporation changed its name to the Richard Humphreys Foundation, with funds from the endowment to be used for promoting education of African Americans to become teachers. Today the Fund provides scholarships to students in the Cheney University Keystone Honors Academy.
Friends Fiduciary serves Quaker meetings, schools, non-profit organizations, and other institutions with socially responsible investment solutions. It offers a Quaker Fundraisers’ Gathering every other year in October. Registration is not yet live for 2020, and this year the conference will be held virtually on five Friday mornings in October (conference sessions from 9-10:15 followed by 45 minute long breakout groups at 10:30)