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Berrien Community Foundation Awards Over Half A Million Dollars In Scholarships

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Pictured are the more than 80 students who attended BCF’s Scholarship Celebration June 13 at Grand Upton Hall at Lake Michigan College.

Berrien Community Foundation Awards Over Half A Million Dollars In Scholarships

91 scholarships awarded to 86 students, totaling $533,000

Berrien Community Foundation is awarding more than a half million dollars in scholarships this year to college-bound students to help them build a sweet life.

Berrien Community Foundation (BCF) hosted its “Knowledge Is Sweet” Scholarship Celebration June 13 at Grand Upton Hall at Lake Michigan College. The evening was full of fun and sweet treats as pursuing higher education was compared to the board game Candy Land. In total, 91 scholarships were awarded to 86 students from across Berrien County and Hartford for a grand total of $533,000.

“For the first time ever, we are sending more than half a million dollars out to students chasing their academic goals,” said BCF President Lisa Cripps-Downey. “That is $500,000 in student loans that they collectively don’t have to worry about. It’s because of our wonderful and generous donors that we have reached this milestone.”

BCF offers scholarships for graduating high school seniors, students currently in college, adults returning to the classroom and students going into the trades.

Four new scholarships were added to BCF for the 2023-2024 school year — the David and Kathleen Bradley Scholarship, the Jon and Chenai Gillispie Trades Scholarship, New Futures Scholarship and the Ruth Ann and Louis Harvey Benton Harbor Youth HBCU Scholarship.

The David and Kathleen Bradley Scholarship was established by the Bradleys to support the educational goals of graduates of Watervliet High School pursuing a future in visual arts or the sciences. David was a science teacher and Kathleen taught art at Watervliet Public Schools.

The Jon and Chenai Gillispie Trades Scholarship was begun by Jon and Chenai Gillispie to highlight the importance of the trades as well as to support students from Berrien County who want to pursue a career in them.

The New Futures Scholarship was established by an anonymous donor to support immigrant students or the children of immigrants in Berrien County. Additionally, each recipient will be a first-generational college student. 

The Ruth Ann and Louis Harvey Benton Harbor Youth HBCU Scholarship was established by the Harvey family in memory of Louis and his wife, Ruth Ann. Louis was a physical education and health teacher at Benton Harbor Area Schools for 46 years and became a multi-sport coach. Ruth Ann was also vital in helping Benton Harbor students become college-ready and prepare them for life off the basketball court. This scholarship aims to continue their legacy of giving back to one’s community.

“It’s because of families like the Bradleys, Gillispies and Harveys that we are able to say that, to date, Berrien Community Foundation has awarded more than $4.3 million to local students,” said Berrien Community Foundation Program Director Susan Matheny. “There’s so much to experience at college or trade school. These scholarships allow students to learn and explore all that higher education has to offer.”


BCF scholarships are established by donors to support students who excel in academics, community service, the arts, or are pursuing a particular career path. Volunteers from the community sit on review committees to make award recommendations to the BCF Board of Directors.


The 2024 Berrien Community Foundation Scholars are:
All God’s Children Community Choir Scholarship: Joseph Love (Lakeshore); Alton and Millie Wendzel Scholarship: Samuel Loy (Michigan Lutheran), Marleigh Schultz (Watervliet); Arcadia Gardens Scholarship: Daniela Delgado (Hartford), Travis Locke (Bridgman); Arthur and Bonna Vanderlyn Scholarship: Deidre Beltran (Hartford), Harmony Bennett (Hartford), Tiyanna Covington (Hartford), Elizabeth Eide (Hartford), Isabel Garcia (Hartford), Ivan Lopez (Hartford), Jairo Lopez (Hartford), Jonathan Martinez Calderon (Hartford), Rebeca Pacheco (Hartford), Lillian Price (Hartford), Jesus Rivas-Jimenez (Hartford); Bryce Boothby Family Scholarship: Kamden White (Benton Harbor); Carol A. Oehlhaffen Our Lady of the Lake Scholar: Colin Casey (Our Lady of the Lake), Allison Glendening (Our Lady of the Lake), Hazel Hysell (Our Lady of the Lake), Claire Jollay (Our Lady of the Lake), Kyra Krieger (Our Lady of the Lake), Matthew Lage (Our Lady of the Lake), Ronan Marsh (Our Lady of the Lake), Owen McLoughlin (Our Lady of the Lake), Luke Milanowski (Our Lady of the Lake), Nathan Poll (Our Lady of the Lake), Abigail Schrauben (Our Lady of the Lake), Isabelle Schrauben (Our Lady of the Lake), Julia Wilcox (Our Lady of the Lake), Hanna Yankauskas (Our Lady of the Lake); Carol A. Oehlhaffen Youth in Philanthropy Scholarship: Lauren Laws (Watervliet); Coach U Scholarship: Quianna Bennett (Benton Harbor), Jaeden Meeks (Benton Harbor); Cora B. Parkhurst Memorial Scholarship: Alex Martinek (Berrien Springs); David A. Hicks Scholarship for the Arts: Ella Harris (Watervliet); David and Kathleen Bradley Scholarship: Paige Culberson (Watervliet); Drews Scholar: Kieran Allan (Lakeshore); Dunn Scholarship: Grace Jewell (Lake Michigan College), Elisa Sypian (Lake Michigan College); Edna Bender Memorial Scholarship: Adaliah Bennett (Berrien Springs); F.A. Mason Penwell Nursing Scholarship: Luketsha Marlow (Lake Michigan College), Hannah Nesan (Lake Michigan College); Felland Scholarship: Jaden Pailing (Andrews University), Payton Yarbrough (Southwestern Michigan College); Fox Family Scholarship: Emily Reitz (River Valley), Austin York (River Valley); Frederick S. Upton Opportunity Scholarship: Blake Bacon (Lakeshore), Elle Graebel (Michigan Lutheran), Sean Goodger (Niles), Paul Thomas (Niles), Joshua Tomlinson (Lakeshore), Brianne Webb (Buchanan), Jennah White (Lakeshore), Isaac Zahrt (St. Joseph); Howard D. Merchant Memorial Scholarship: Kayla Valdes (St. Joseph); Insurance Management Service Scholarship: Jaeden Meeks (Benton Harbor); James and Bernadette McKittrick Agricultural and Environmental Scholarship: Andrew George (Niles), Evangelina Kerschbaum (Lakeshore); Jameson Matthew Gargano Memorial Scholarship: Kieran Allan (Lakeshore); Jean M. Heisner Medical Technician Scholarship: Dorothy Culwell (Lake Michigan College), Kylie Prisk (Lake Michigan College); Jon and Chenai Gillispie Trades Scholarship: Gaige Neumann (Niles); June Rollinger Family Scholarship: Kaylyn Moore (Niles); Ken and Jeanne Thomas Memorial Scholarship: Quianna Bennett (Benton Harbor), Gabriel Jaramillo Williamson (St. Joseph); Lehmann-Peapples Trades Scholarship: Nathan Haygood (Berrien Springs); Leonard and Marion Krall Memorial Scholarship: Anslie Saylor (Watervliet); Lora Wile Miller Memorial Scholarship: Madison Cornelius (Buchanan), Makenzie McConomy (Lakeshore); Marion and Dan Crossman Scholarship: Kadence Bixby (Niles); Maybury Scholarship: Savannah DeVries (University of Phoenix), Kahlie Snowdon (Buchanan); New Futures Scholarship: Melissa Cardozo-Aviles (Watervliet), Sumit Sarker (Berrien Springs); Passaro Family Volunteer Scholarship: Marina Mendes Ferreira (Lakeshore); Patricia Gagliardo Kutz-Holland Trades Scholarship: Anya Sexton (Watervliet); Patrick Freehling Memorial Scholarship: Sarah Hackett (Lighthouse Connections Academy), Abigail King (Bridgman); Rodney Weir Marching Band Scholarship: Lydia Koshar (Watervliet); Ronald H. Miller Journalism Scholarship: Abby Lomoro (Watervliet); Ruth Ann and Louis Harvey Benton Harbor Youth HBCU Scholarship: Brianna Spencer (Benton Harbor); Sondra J. Kaminski Scholarship: Jade Alpert (St. Joseph); Sondra J. Kaminski Soccer Scholarship: Camp Daniels (St. Joseph); Southwest Michigan Human Trafficking Taskforce Scholarship: Grace Jewell (Lake Michigan College); St. Joseph Class of 1970 Scholarship: Shaniya Davis (Benton Harbor); Steven Marsh and Family Scholarship: Austin York (River Valley); Stoub Family Scholarship for Working Students: Klay Raschke (Berrien Springs); Trefz Family Scholarship: Kylie Ott (Bridgman), Giada Pawlowski (New Buffalo); Wilson Family Scholarship: Wesley McGinn (New Buffalo)



In addition to the scholars listed above, previous BCF scholars were able to renew their scholarships, adding to the total amount of dollars sent out in scholarship funds.

Scholarship applications for next year will be available on the Foundation's website in December 2024. For information on starting a scholarship, contact Lisa Cripps-Downey at

The Berrien Community Foundation is a center of philanthropy in Berrien County holding endowment and other funds to support programs and projects throughout Berrien County. These community foundation funds support the ever-changing needs of Berrien County now and into the future. The foundation provides grants and scholarships plus opportunities for individuals across the county to fulfill charitable intentions through life-end giving and estate planning. For information about BCF call 983-3304 or visit

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