Students from 28 union families in Texas received $1,000 scholarships toward the college, university or trade school of their choice following completion of the 2016-2017 Texas AFL-CIO Scholarship Program.
In a major development that will affect the program in the future, delegates to the 2017 Texas AFL-CIO Constitutional Convention voted to raise the grant amount for future winners to $1,500 – the first time the amount has been raised in more than two decades.
“The Texas AFL-CIO Scholarship Committee, the Executive Board of the Texas AFL-CIO and delegates to the convention all agreed that funding for the scholarship needed to increase significantly to give students more help with ever-increasing bills for their educations,” Texas AFL-CIO President Rick Levy said. “This increase makes up for much of the buying power of the scholarship that has been lost to inflation.”
“The program remains one of our favorite tasks at the state labor federation,” Levy said, “and it would not be possible at this level without the continuing generosity of donors to the Texas AFL-CIO Scholarship Fund and to volunteers in local labor bodies across the state who help run the program.”
In addition to providing assistance to students, the scholarship application process involves discussion of the basics of the labor movement with a couple hundred applicants each year. A revised Texas AFL-CIO Scholarship Exam this year placed a heavier emphasis on fundamentals of union history and the scholarship process continues to include an interview with committees set up by Central Labor Councils and the Gulf Coast Area Labor Federation.
Besides the exam, criteria for the scholarships for high school seniors include academic achievement, extracurricular activities and financial need.
Continuing Scholarships, which go to a pool of college students who won a scholarship as high school seniors, place emphasis on students’ volunteer and public service actions. This year, six students received the continuing award.
To be eligible for the program, one of a student’s parents or legal guardians must be a member of a labor union that is affiliated both with its Central Labor Council and the Texas AFL-CIO. The CLC requirement is waived if the student lives in a part of Texas that does not have CLC (or ALF) jurisdiction.
The Texas AFL-CIO pays the one-time grants directly to college financial aid offices to be credited to the accounts of recipients.
The Scholarship Fund is a 501(c)(3) organization, allowing donors to deduct contributions on federal income tax returns to the full extent of the law.
Levy thanked the Texas AFL-CIO Scholarship Committee for its service. Panel members include Jeff Darby (AFGE), Chair; Katherine Thompson (OPEIU), Co-Chair; Clara Caldwell (APRI); Lee Medley (USW); LaTonia Benoit (TWU); B.R. Williams (ILA); Ray McMurrey (AFT); Judy Cortez (AFSCME); and Michael Murphy (IBEW).
Once again, the death of beloved labor leaders spurred donations to the scholarship fund. The Texas AFL-CIO is posting lists of all donors and those memorialized along with the list of scholarships winners.
Donors of one or more full scholarships include: IBEW Local 716, ILA Local 28, IUOE Local 450, Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 286, Plumbers Local 68, Texas AFT, Joe D. & Dorothy Gunn (memorial), Texas State Council of Machinists (in memory of George Hooper), American Income Life and the Texas Building & Construction Trades Council.
The Scholarship Committee voted this year to designate one scholarship in honor of former Texas AFL-CIO President Becky Moeller.
The Texas AFL-CIO Education Department will mail scholarship packets for the 2018 program to Central Labor Councils in late October and is posting information and applications on the Texas AFL-CIO web site, www.texasaflcio.org/scholarship Postmark deadline for high school seniors to apply will be Wednesday Jan. 31, 2018.