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Foundation Steps Up for College Students

Published Wednesday Apr 7, 2021

Author Matthew J. Mowry

Pecco Beaufays, center, presents scholarships to Chevy Robinson, left, and Tyler Couitt, right. Courtesy photo.

A reborn nonprofit is working with businesses to create more paid vocational apprenticeships, raise scholarship dollars for Community College System of NH (CCSNH) students and encourage more students to pursue technical careers in NH.  

Formerly known as Three Rivers Foundation, The Granite Foundation, based in New London, changed its name to reflect its new purpose, to raise awareness about technical career paths.

“It’s great that scholarships are given to students going to four-year institutions, but what we really need in New Hampshire are people interested in technical training,” says Sooze Hodgson, a board member and a retired pediatrician. She says workers are aging out, and trade businesses are desperate for new workers. “It’s very expensive to go to community college [in NH]. It’s about $20,000 a year. The scholarships needed to support these kids are huge.”

While many students receive grants and other scholarships, many work multiple jobs to make ends meet. Any economic hardship can then cause some to drop out. Hodgson says the foundation wants to provide a safety net.

“A lot of these students are supporting families.... [Even] the cost of a tool kit to finish an automotive program might mean dropping out,” she says.  

Pecco Beaufays, owner of Highland Lake Inn in East Andover, established Three Rivers Foundation in 2017. Originally from Germany, where secondary education is free, Beaufays wanted to bring together business and community leaders to support community college students. The Granite Foundation hopes to create an endowment within CCSNH, which means individual colleges could refer students in need. Having the scholarship application on CCSNH’s website would allow more students to find it, says Elliott Hale, board member as well as branch relationship manager with Bar Harbor Bank in New London.

The foundation has a partnership with the NH Automobile Dealers Association where students can get paid apprenticeships and Granite Foundation scholarship assistance.

Since 2017, the foundation has provided $30,000 in scholarships, ranging from $2,500 to $5,000, to six NH students. The foundation raises money through individual donors and an annual golf tournament, which was canceled in 2020. To overcome pandemic-related fundraising disruptions, the nonprofit wants to expand its donor base in 2021 and is seeking a grant writer, says Hale. “We’re looking for 2021 to be a growth year,” he says.

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