Our union is one of the most diverse and inclusive in the state of Oregon, ranging from public state employees to local governments to non-profits and homecare and personal support workers. We have been working to change lives for decades now, from great contracts that affect wages and benefits to the other key issues that affect our members. With that commitment in mind, our union created the SEIU Local 503 Educational Scholarship program, which allows members and their families to apply for scholarships to help them continue in their education.
This year, twenty union members and their families were selected to receive scholarship support for college, helping them to grow in their careers and avoid the debt that often comes with higher education.
“I am so grateful for this award and thankful for the chance to further my education,” says Kayleana Green, who is the daughter of union member William Matthews and will be attending Oregon State University in the fall to study biochemistry. “This award will allow me to focus on school more, rather than work, without putting myself into debt.”
The scholarship amounts to $1,500 per recipient and is available to people who are working in a represented bargaining unit, their family and dependents, and even the surviving dependents of a recently deceased member. As Oregon’s higher education system increases tuition costs, these scholarships come at a crucial point to support our membership in continuing to elevate their careers without falling financially behind.
“My mom is getting laid off as they are eliminating jobs due to school budget cuts,” says Carrie Lillis, a sophomore at George Fox University who is studying to become a physical therapist. After her mom was laid off she struggled to determine if she would be able to return to school and complete her education, but our scholarship has given her the kind of support she needed to succeed. “We have been so worried about me affording school that I left a University and I am going to a community college to save money. This couldn’t have come at a better time.”
Our union is building bonds to support our communities throughout our lives, to help working families achieve their potential and to provide support where it is needed. Stay tuned for next year’s scholarship application process, and apply to get the same support for your college plans!