For Vi at Grayhawk, a Vi and Plaza Companies community, resident Jane McGrath, EdD, education has been a lifelong passion. After a 35-year career teaching reading, study skills and critical thinking in community colleges throughout Maricopa County, Dr. McGrath feels fortunate to continue her commitment to student development as the board president of the Grayhawk Classic Residents’ Foundation. For the past 12 years, the foundation has awarded scholarships to Vi at Grayhawk employees and their dependents interested in pursuing higher education.
“To be able to continue to work with students to help them be successful in their education, and to provide counseling and mentoring support, is an incredible experience,” said Dr. McGrath. “There just could not be a more personally rewarding way for me to spend my time.”
Residents Have Invested Over $1 Million in Community
In 2003, a group of Vi at Grayhawk residents came together and formed the foundation to give back to their own community as well as the larger community of Scottsdale. “Our original residents were committed to education as a primary way that you can invest in the future.” The first year scholarships totaled $7,200. By 2015, that number has jumped to more than $220,000, bringing the foundation’s total investment in students to over $1 million dollars.
The foundation is managed by a volunteer resident board and entirely funded by residents, who first learn of the foundation as soon as they move into Vi at Grayhawk. “We give every new resident an information packet telling them what the foundation does, and someone from the foundation speaks at every new resident orientation meeting,” said McGrath.
Donations are accepted all year long, but the most successful fundraising months are June, when the annual scholarships are awarded, and September, when the foundation conducts its donor drive. During the donor drive, the foundation sends a fundraising letter to all residents, and places table tents on the dining room tables with photos of scholarship recipients. “The foundation is an integral part of our community. Everyone knows about us and the work that we’re doing. We have all been so blessed in our lives and we wanted to give something back to our community. It is just extraordinary to have such amazing residents who year after year continue to support the investment.”
For Employees and Residents, Education is Common Ground
Scholarship recipients have come from all aspects of the Vi at Grayhawk community, from housekeeping to the care center, and have gone on to receive associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees. By investing in Vi at Grayhawk employees and their dependents, residents are able to directly experience the impact of their philanthropy.
“We just love to follow their academic progress and hear their success stories,” McGrath said. “It gives us something to talk about and share. We have a mutual interest in education, and having that common ground brings us closer together.”
And for the employees, receiving a scholarship can provide the opportunity to grow within Vi and give back to the residents by continuing service in a management capacity. “One young man started as a dining room server with us,” McGrath stated. “We supported him all the way through his masters and he is now the director of social services for our Vi community in La Jolla. Our current assistant director of the care center is a scholarship recipient who is working on a Master’s of Healthcare Administration.”
Scholarships Given to All Applicants Who Meet Criteria
To receive a scholarship, each applicant must turn in a packet that includes an application, letter of recommendation, personal essay and academic transcript or description of their past education. The final step is a personal interview with the scholarship committee. Every candidate who completes this process receives some scholarship funds, which are paid by the foundation directly to the educational institution. “It’s important that we offer some support to every applicant who meets the criteria,” McGrath said. “The foundation is a wonderful example of what people who are philanthropic and want to make the world a better place can do.”