Puts College in Reach of Students

When Social Security benefits for many eligible students’ post-secondary education were eliminated in the early 1980s, Ruth Richardson, then director of counseling for Dayton Public Schools, knew she had to do something.

“Parents were coming to me in tears, because they were counting on this money being available to them,“ she said. “When it was gone, they were left struggling to find a way to help pay for their children’s college education.“

Through the advice and assistance of community leader John E. Moore, Sr., Mrs. Richardson established the Dayton-Montgomery County Scholarship Program (DMCSP) in 1981 with gifts totaling $25,000. Initially, the program provided scholarships to help graduating Dayton Public School students pay for their first year at a college, university or trade school. As the fund grew, however, she was able to extend its reach to students attending schools throughout Montgomery County.

Word of the program spread quickly, as Ruth Richardson and others went to local companies and donors to ask for financial assistance. It wasn’t long before news of her efforts reached Jesse Philips, a longtime community leader and former chair of The Dayton Foundation’s Governing Board, who surprised her with a $1 million gift to grow the program. Gifts from John W. Berry, Sr., also a former member of the Foundation’s Governing Board, and NCR Corporation, among others, soon followed.

Now a fund of The Dayton Foundation, the DMCSP has awarded a total of $20.8 million in scholarships to more than 20,000 graduating seniors.

Though DMCSP originally started as an access scholarship, it recently moved to a renewable scholarship model, where recipients receive a $5,000 scholarship paid over four years or $500 over two years if attending a community college.

“Even with increases in federal and state grant support, and with most colleges and universities providing considerable need- and merit-based aid, deserving students still find themselves unable to fund their education without going into considerable debt,“ said Patrick Gill, executive director of DMCSP. “We have taken the next steps to ensure Pell-grant eligible students with at least a 3.0 cumulative grade point have the best opportunity to not only attend college, but to graduate in two or four years. We are grateful for the groundwork that Ruth Richardson and John Moore, Sr., laid 40 years ago in order to help youth pursue their dreams of getting an education.“

According to Ruth Richardson, DMCSP opened some students’ eyes to the possibility of furthering their education.

“Many of my students didn’t have the encouragement of their family or knew they didn’t have the financial means to pay for college, so continuing their education just didn’t occur to them,“ she said. “This program gave them the opportunity to think beyond their means and to see that it was possible.“

A former DMCSP board member, Mrs. Richardson served an honorary role and continued to promote the program until her passing in 2012. To commemorate Ruth Richardson’s legacy, DMCSP created the Ruth Richardson Award, which annually awards a one-time gift of $1,000 to the student with the highest grade point average and most financial need at each of the Dayton Public Schools.

“I’m so proud of what DMCSP has been able to do for these students. They are our future and deserve a chance to further their education.“

For recent news and updates about The Dayton Foundation, read our press releases online.

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File date: 08.11.21


Susan Harker

“We opened Charitable Checking Accounts for each of our adult children for Christmas. These accounts will encourage them to think about and support the organizations and causes they care about most. It’s a great way to teach children of any age about the joy of giving.” – Susan Harker, a Charitable Checking Account℠ donor since 1994

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