Spotlight on Nonprofits: The Seward Community Library Association

September 9, 2016

1796898_10152197874310269_1161527926_oFor thirty-eight years, the Seward Community Library Association has been supporting deserving students with what likely is the oldest continuously running scholarship program in the state of Alaska.

Named after the founder of the Seward Community Library Museum, Viola Swettman, the Swetmann Scholarship has been awarding scholarships to students since 1978, supporting their higher educational dreams, be they academic education or vocational training.

Uniquely, the scholarship does not award to students based upon financial need or academic success. The one requirement for application? Possess a library card from the Seward Community Library. Students who apply do not submit essays or transcripts, but must complete a creative, original project inspired by their experiences at the library and museum. While projects must incorporate personal inspiration and expression, they must also reflect the applicant’s connection to Seward’s unique history and the museum and library itself. Projects are scored through a complex matrix that takes into account the “number of references cited, the depth of exploration, originality, clarity and technical accuracy.” Two scholarships of up to $1,500 each are awarded each year, and those who score high enough are invited to apply again for renewal in the following year.

 So what kind of projects to students create?

392627989 (2)Last year, Maria Jackson designed an original historical quilt that explored the gold rush history of Alaska. Fascinated by this era of Alaska’s history, Maria researched the history of Alaska’s gold rush at the museum and designed a quilt that highlighted places, people and events from the time period. The other recipient, Robyn McKnightwrote a book of poetry about the pioneer women from the Gold Rush days.

This year, Susannah Doepkin created an original painting entitled “Rockwell Kent Meets Disney” and Moriah Doepkin designed and wrote a book “Faces of Seward.” Interested in seeing these two projects? They are on display at the Seward Community Library Museum!

The Swetmann Scholarship is made possible entirely through the Seward Community Library Association’s endowment fund at The Alaska Community Foundation. Designed to make lasting impact for years to come, charitable endowments support important causes into perpetuity, as they grow in size and the core of their fund (the principal) is invested year after year. Thanks to the generosity of the scholarship’s founder and community supporters, deserving students in Seward are achieving their dreams year after year through an endowment that is invested in a community’s future.

Interested in learning more about endowments and nonprofit funds at The Alaska Community Foundation? Contact us! Or check out the information on our website for more information.

Wondering what other fantastic programs the Seward Community Library Association makes possible? Find them on Facebook or visit their website.