RG Scholarships

Green Family Scholarship

Financial need is primary focus for this higher education fund
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A desire to level the educational playing field was the spark that started the Green Family Scholarship in 2007 – and it continues to be the driving force. So far, $3 million has been awarded to 175 students, with an emphasis on helping those who really need financial aid and wouldn’t be able to pursue a degree overseas without it.

“I think that everybody deserves a chance to try to better their lives and better their family’s lives,” said family spokesman, Andrew Green.

He credits his multimillionaire father Peter, from “working class Manchester”, with instilling a “pretty strong sense of social justice” into him and his brother Alexander, who were educated at Saltus Grammar School and then Brown University in the United States.

“When we were kids, teenagers, a lot of our friends were getting scholarships and they didn’t need them,” he said. “It really almost ticked us off. These scholarships should have been going to people who needed the scholarships.”

After returning to the island to live 17 years ago, he realised there still existed a “huge gap” in terms of higher education funding for those of limited means and so he talked to his family about how they could make a difference.

“We did a bit of research and there was only one scholarship programme that took into account financial need at the time, and that was Knowledge Quest,” he said. “I reached out to Knowledge Quest and we got together. We actually do our interview process together. We get hundreds of applications a year and they go through the vast majority of them for us in advance. We’re really grateful for their help.”

It was Knowledge Quest which suggested that the fund should not insist on scholarship recipients returning to Bermuda after their studies abroad. Mr Green, who lived in London for several years after college before moving home, said it was great advice.

“That’s a huge part of our philosophy now, getting people abroad to see the world. Nine out of ten students will push to go abroad because that international experience is vital for Bermuda to thrive and for their own personal growth. Bermuda is a wonderful place with great opportunities and the vast majority of students will want to come back, but we don’t require that.”

The Green Family Scholarship usually gives out ten scholarships of $10,000 a year for up to four years. It is decidedly not targeted at Bermuda’s highest academic achievers, as they will already be eligible for a wide array of financial awards.

Mr Green said: “If you are an A student in Bermuda, you are getting a scholarship. When I see an A student in our interview process, I know they are not going to be one of our scholarships. I’m delighted we’ll be able to give it to somebody else that needs it. It’s the BC and CB students that are struggling.”

He added: “The education system here hasn’t always perhaps guided them in the right direction. Often, as soon as they are in the right field or with the right structure, they thrive and it’s really nice to see.”

Though the focus is not on high grades, those applying to the Green Family Scholarship need to be on track with their studies. They must apply first to Knowledge Quest, prove their financial need and demonstrate they’ve chosen an affordable university or college to attend. Recipients are often headed to the United Kingdom or Canada, where higher education is far cheaper than the United States, though funding for a degree in the US is not ruled out in “exceptional” cases.

Mr Green cited an example of a student who won a place last year to study engineering at prestigious Syracuse University in New York State. Even with other scholarship funding, it would have been a struggle for her to meet the costs.

“Quite frankly, she was the first female engineering student we’ve ever seen,” he said. “We talked to my family and we gave her $20,000 a year because I want her to be able to graduate, I want her to be able to do this.”

Once the applications have been whittled down to a shortlist, Mr Green and a Knowledge Quest panel conduct Zoom interviews. He said panellists were likely to be impressed by those who have a summer job or other work and those who have researched Bermuda’s employment sector and its needs.

“There are ways other than your actual finances to show us your hunger and your desire to get over the line of a university education,” he said. “My red flags in an interview are when a student says they picked the location because of the weather or because they’re dating somebody going there.”

Scholarships are usually awarded in August, after other organisations, including the Government, have announced the beneficiaries of their higher education funding schemes. At that point, Knowledge Quest and the Green Family Scholarship have a clear picture of who needs financial aid to make university a reality.

The “vast majority” of those awarded funding from the scheme are from public schools, though there are some private school recipients. Those who benefit must maintain a C average and give yearly progress reports.

Green Family Scholarship success stories are many, including two recipients who went on to become Rhodes Scholars.

“We are proud of all our students,” said Mr Green. “I’m proud that it’s not just the elite. It’s certain that you can come from a tough background and still achieve a lot.”

To apply to the Green Family Scholarship Fund, visit www.knowledgequest.bm

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