Mid-Year Report Card for SFSF Recipients - Median Grade Point Average (GPA) Is 3.6 February 4, 2024
The fall semester is in the books, and it was a banner performance for Step Forward Scholarship Fund (SFSF) recipients enrolled in degree programs.
Out of the eight respondents, seven had GPA’s above a 3.0 on a 4.0-point scale. The highest GPA earned was 4.0; the lowest, 2.8. The median GPA was 3.6 (a B+ equivalent), meaning half were above and half below this number. Additionally, three recipients were on their school’s dean’s list.
“The first semester academic achievements of our 2023 scholarship recipients are truly impressive,” said John Zaremba, chair of the SFSF’s scholarship committee. “This validates for the scholarship committee as well as the SFSF board of directors the confidence we placed in each of them.”
The students attend such schools as Appalachian State, UNC Charlotte, UNC Asheville, UNC Chapel Hill, the University of South Carolina, NC State, Duke and Tulane. Their areas of study encompass business, psychology, biology, sociology, textile merchandising, marine science, and criminal justice.
Other employees and employee dependents who received scholarships aren’t in degree-related programs but are in professional development programs, Zaremba said, so GPA’s do not equate to their studies. However, the SFSF board monitors these students’ performances as well to ensure the recipients are successful.
The SFSF awarded 25 grants totaling over $120,000 in 2023. More than 30 GC employees and employees of children applied for scholarships. Members of SFSF currently are scheduling meetings with employees in each GC department to give them the full scope of the program. Applicants need to know that SFSF provides financial support for tuition, room and board, application and testing fees and housing deposits, stipends for non-paying or low-paying internships, and mentoring.
The organization expects a similar number of applications for the 2024-2025 academic year.
“From the community college to the graduate school, our recipients continue to confirm the value of helping our employees and their dependents have the same educational opportunities we have had,” Zaremba said. “Our SFSF supporters should feel good knowing their gifts are making this happen.”
A Life Lived Globally: SFSF's Ed Sanchez January 6, 2024
New Step Forward Scholarship Fund board member Eduardo (Ed) Sanchez exemplifies a life embedded in numerous cultures and languages. Although Ed was born in Cuba, his parents left the country for the United States about two years after Castro came to power. Ed preceded his parents to the States, living with an aunt who had also left Cuba.
Living in both Cuba and the United States immersed Ed in the culture and language of the U.S. even as he maintained his Spanish and Cuban heritage. The dual-culture life continued when Ed and his family moved to Puerto Rico, where he met his wife, Eileen. Later, through Ed’s work positions, the couple lived in Spain and then Brussels for ten years. Ed likes to say that he and his family are “global nomads,” retaining the culture of their country of origin, but also learning new cultures.
The Sanchezs moved from the Atlanta area four years ago, attracted to Governors Club because several grown children lived in the Triangle and Greensboro. Two daughters had graduated from Duke University, so the area was familiar to Ed and Eileen. At present, the Sanchezs have eight grandchildren, with six living in North Carolina.
Ed has had an interesting career life. As a graduate of Columbia Law School, he knew international companies and law was his goal. Ed worked as General Counsel of Bestfoods, then moved to Deputy General Counsel at Coca-Cola, heading the legal team for the Americas. Ed was next recruited by Bacardi Limited as Global General Counsel, his position before retirement.
With retirement comes time to explore other areas of life. Ed enjoys learning the fascinating but frustrating game of golf, along with robust sessions of pickleball and shooting clays. And, of course, there’s always the grandchildren.
Retirement is a time where a person can do anything, a few things, or nothing at all. (One period). When Ed entered this phase three years ago, the decision to join SFSF evolved. Ed and Eileen have always given back to their communities and churches; however, due to Ed’s long work hours, he played a supporting role. With retirement, that changed. When we asked Ed about his choice of Step Forward for his time and talents, he stated, “I was particularly attracted by the focus on education for motivated individuals and families.”
Step Forward volunteers involve themselves in mentoring, raising dollars for scholarship awards and other related costs, determining appropriate candidates, and helping coordinate English as a Second Language. “For me, all the areas are important but the most critical is scholarship assistance, because it can have the most transformational and long-term impact on the recipients and their families,” Ed said.
It's no wonder Ed believes that scholarship assistance is critical. When Ed and his parents left everything behind in Cuba, they knew the one thing they could “own” was education. Growing up in the U.S., Ed personally experienced the power of financial assistance and education in his journey through undergraduate and Columbia Law, using his education plus key clerkships to launch his career. He sees a similar pattern for our Governors Club employees: obtain additional learning and enrich life.
Ed’s “past legal life” is a perfect fit for his duties on the SFSF board. Acting as Secretary, Ed works with board minutes, governance, and officer terms. His work is critical, as the organization is accountable to not only the IRS but also to North Carolina authorities. The organization’s status as a 501c(3) is based on strict compliance.
Ed believes Step Forward not only sees real growth opportunities but also faces challenges as it grows: “For me, the main growth opportunities are two sides of a single coin: increase the annual and legacy donations to increase the size and length of scholarship assistance and to perhaps offer an even broader range of educational programs.”
The hands-on aspect of SFSF is what is most attractive to Ed. “What makes Step Forward special to me is that we are helping members of the Governors Club family so we can connect our work with individual names, faces, and personal stories that are part of our community life,” he concluded.
SFSF “English as a Second Language” Program Takes Off December 2, 2023
Angela Privitere, Armando Guaman, Sara Colaianni
In January 2023, the Step Forward Scholarship Fund (SFSF) initiated a pilot English as a Second Language (ESL) program targeting Governors Club employees who wanted to improve their language skills. Eleven months later, the program is thriving and has five students and 10 tutors. It wasn’t, however, an easy road.
From SFSF’s beginning in 2019, it always was the intent to establish an ESL program, but there were numerous challenges: A dedicated individual was needed to develop and run the program; tutors were needed to be recruited from the club membership and trained; and finally, employees with the desire and the time to devote to classes had to be identified and enrolled.
Enter Sara Colaianni. The GC member taught ESL in the Chicago public school system and Mexico before her subsequent consulting career, which focused primarily on banking in Latin America. She is fluent in Spanish but is quick to note that club volunteers do not need teaching or Spanish language skills to become tutors. In March of 2023, the program enrolled its first student: Armando Guaman, the brother of Chef Ben. He immigrated to the US from Ecuador and is now employed in Golf Course Maintenance. His English skills were limited. Armando proved to be a dedicated student – attending classes twice a week -- and is rapidly improving his English skills. Despite Armando’s success, he was the only student for months. The SFSF Board of Directors considered discontinuing the program after he completed his course. “Many of those who would benefit from the program have second jobs and don’t have the time to attend the classes,” Sara said in explaining the slow start of the program. “We needed to design a program to be flexible enough to meet their needs and with the understanding that work comes first for the employees. We strive to be independent and unobtrusive to the functioning of the club.”
Then, the program caught on with other GC employees. The program has grown over the past few months to include five students from Golf Course Maintenance, Food and Beverage, and Housekeeping.
To manage the increased enrollment, Sara recruited nine additional tutors. She developed the program using a tag team approach with two tutors dedicated to each student. This enabled flexibility in meeting the work schedules of the students and the busy schedules of tutors. Normally, at least one tutor is available for each student, if not two, every week. The ESL program is collaborating with Chatham Literacy to provide materials for the students and training for the tutors.vv“It has been challenging to find tutor volunteers from our super-active, traveling club population,” Sara said. “However, those I have found are exceptionally dedicated and generous. They are excited to be helping and they bond immediately with their students.”
Sara sees the success of the program attracting even more employees “We have incredible support from GC staff, the students’ supervisors and their co-workers,” she said. “I foresee more employee demand for learning or perfecting their English as they observe our students’ success. Chatham Literacy also has been invaluably helpful and responsive in helping us launch and grow our program.” SFSF President Nancy Broaddus said the ESL effort fits perfectly into the scholarship program’s goal of helping GC employees and their children achieve their education and career aspirations. “While we are known for providing financial support and mentoring for employees and children of employees looking to further their education and careers, the ESL program helps employees achieve basic language skills that can make a profound impact on their everyday lives,” she said. “We are proud to have established this program at GC and for providing financial backing for materials that are needed.”
Those serving as tutors include Sara Colaianni, Angela Privitere Jo-Anne Findt, Twing Pitman, Erika Hoffman, Colleen Mullins, Laverne Guetz, Joan Bullard, Pat Elstro and Bhavna Patel. If you would like to know more about the program and possibly become a tutor, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.