Proceeds from the entire series of PEARLS: WOMEN WHO RADIATE SUCCESS benefit the Fresh Start Scholarship Foundation. Here’s why.

Life for women, who, for a variety of reasons, could not attend college is stressful. Without a degree, well-paying jobs are scarce, leaving those with high school credentials trapped in dead-end situations. Promotions in many industries are often bestowed on the well-educated.

The Fresh Start Scholarship Foundation offers Delaware women funds to attend college, thereby forging a path to success. In addition to scholarships, the nonprofit helps guide the recipients with compassionate mentorship that is critical to holistic education as is understanding curriculum. In many cases, Fresh Start graduates, women who achieved their degrees thanks mainly to the nonprofit, serve as guides for women embarking bravely on a higher education career. College is frightening, especially for those who’ve been out of school for years. So many obstacles can deter women from earning degrees. The Fresh Start Scholarship Foundation helps navigate their journeys.

Scholarships are based on need, academic record, and motivation to succeed. Ninety-seven cents out of every dollar the nonprofit receives goes directly to the scholarship program. Since its inception in 1996, it has awarded more than $1.1 million in scholarships to deserving women attending Delaware higher learning institutions. They have achieved a 70-percent graduation rate, an extraordinary statistic for the non-traditional student population — and a promising one.

Founder Mary E. Maloney, the then-president of the Wilmington Women in Business female networking group, proposed a scholarship program to help these women return to college. She knew that women needed a fresh start and that collaboratively, women from all walks of life would support them. I was privileged to feature Mary in the third edition of PEARLS: WOMEN WHO RADIATE SUCCESS. She dedicated much of her life to Fresh Start, and in the process, changed the lives of countless women. She truly is a pioneer.

Mary worked with another leader, Joyce Hayes, who was also affiliated with Wilmington Women in Business. The two established the scholarship program, devoting countless hours of their time to make life better for others. Mary and Joyce inspired generations of women who followed, and today, college is a possibility for any woman who is ready to embrace the challenge.

The first scholarship was awarded to a homeless, single parent living in a car with her four children, left alone to salvage life after an abusive marriage. Her scholarship helped her earn an associate degree in accounting, and she graduated with a 4.0 grade point average. The mother of four landed a job in the financial industry and found a lovely home. She got a fresh start.

Countless recipients of Fresh Start scholarships share equally painful yet inspiring stories. But they all think of the volunteer-led Fresh Start Scholarship Foundation as a place of solace and compassion.

There is always a need for more donors, sponsors, mentors, and volunteers. If you’re interested in learning more, I invite you to visit the Fresh Start Scholarship Foundation website.