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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Big Y World Class Markets here has chosen more than 300 academically outstanding students from the communities around their stores to receive a total of nearly $250,000 in college scholarships for the 2006-2007 academic year.
Unlike the majority of local scholarships, the awards are based on academic merit, regardless of financial need. Scholarship recipients, who come from all over Massachusetts and Connecticut, will now be able to go to such schools as Providence College, Boston University, Vassar, Tufts, Western New England College, American International College, and the University of Notre Dame this fall. Top scholarship winners were recognized at an awards ceremony held at the Big Y Store Support Center in Springfield last month.
Since the Big Y Scholarship program began in 1981, over $1.6 million has been awarded to more than 2,100 students. "We are grateful to be in a position to fill a real need in the communities we serve by recognizing the hard work, dedication to excellence, and outstanding academic achievement of so many fine young men and women who are our neighbors in our marketing area," said Big Y chairman and c.e.o. Donald H. D'Amour in a statement.
A distinguishing characteristic of the program is that it's open to all of Big Y's customers and customer dependents, as well as employees and employee dependents. Scholarships are given to students in the categories of high school graduate, undergraduate, community college, graduate, and nontraditional. There's additionally a special category honoring dependents of law enforcement officers and firefighters. This year seven such scholarships were given out.
Scholarship applications for the upcoming 2007-2008 academic year will be available at the grocer's 54 locations, as well as at guidance offices within Big Y's market area, from October through January. To be eligible, a student's permanent residence or school must be in western and central Mass., Norfolk County, Mass., or the state of Connecticut. Completed applications must be received by Feb. 1, 2007.
As well as its scholarship program, Big Y's educational commitments include sponsorship of the Connecticut Association of Schools Governor's Scholars Program for academically talented high school students throughout the state and the Thomas R. Flanagan Memorial Grants for schools with outstanding student activity programs; the D'Amour Library at Western New England College; the D'Amour Hall for Business, Communication, and Technology at Bay Path College; and free supermarket school tour programs to students of all ages, focusing on good nutrition and relating shopping skills to the importance of reading, math, and other school subjects.
Big Y is one of the largest independently owned supermarket chains in New England. The family-owned and -operated company currently operates 54 stores throughout Connecticut and Massachusetts, with over 9,200 employees.