TISKILWA — In the spring of 2019, Tiskilwa Scholarship Association began the process of dissolving its organization and donating all remaining funds to the Tiskilwa Public Library to use for educational purposes to benefit the entire community.
The library board and its employees are currently devising a multi-year plan for using these funds in various ways: purchasing education-related materials and equipment; contracting with speakers to conduct workshops; sponsoring tuition-free activities to engage the lifelong learners; and in the future, determining uses of the funds as time reveals innovative approaches to education with emphasis on reading.
Beginning in 1960, 10 forward-thinking community members donated seed money to form the TSA, and the group continued for 38 years to lend tuition fees to Tiskilwa students pursuing post-high-school studies. With changing times, in 1998 the TSA began awarding “no-strings-attached” grants, ultimately totaling more than $42,000 over the past 20 years. As announced last June, the four recipients in 2018 were the final beneficiaries of this philanthropic association.
Although it’s sad to say good-bye to an old friend, the TSA Board decided that giving its funds to the local library is a better way to continue its mission, not only to promote educational goals but also to reach a wider audience.
Since the first outright grants in 1998, each recipient has qualified for the scholarship through volunteer work, personal academic achievement, and a clear commitment to goals as stated in written responses to application questions. The other requirement was that applicants be residents of the former Tiskilwa School District 300.
For three decades, Helen Kenney and Judith Wright, both residents of rural Tiskilwa, have served as chairwoman and treasurer of the organization. Other Tiskilwa volunteers who have served on the TSA board for many years are John Cotter, Charlie Fredenhagen, Cecille Gerber, Mark Johnston and Matt Kaufmann-Sears. Each May, the TSA board members gathered to read the student applications, from which all names were removed. In recent years, the grants were announced in May at the Awards Night program at Princeton High School. Based on the heartfelt thank-you notes that the TSA board has received over the years, this 59-year program served the community well.