The Eden Prairie Community Foundation is currently accepting applications for the 2024 Dr. Jean L. Harris Scholarships.
Applications for the 2024 scholarships have been open since Dec. 15. Applicants must submit their forms by the Feb. 15, 2024, deadline.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the scholarship established in honor of Harris, Eden Prairie’s first female and Black mayor. Reflecting her values and legacy, the scholarship aims to foster involvement in diversity and human rights.
Greg Leeper, executive director of the Foundation, highlighted the scholarship’s role in fostering a spirit of service and inclusivity among high school seniors.
The winners for 2023 were Maneeya Leung and Abi Rajasekaran.
“It recognizes college-going high school seniors, their commitment to community, especially to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the community, in their school careers, and supports their ongoing educational efforts beyond Eden Prairie,” Leeper said. “It’s a good way to highlight the good work of Dr. Harris as our mayor from 1996 to 2001.”
In 2022, the Eden Prairie scholarship program saw a significant expansion thanks to a bequest from Basil and Mary Jane Wissner.
The Wissners, who died in 2020 — Mary Jane on May 9 and Basil 23 weeks later — were longstanding Eden Prairie residents known for their discreet philanthropy, according to an Oct. 9, 2020, article by Mark Weber in the Eden Prairie Local News (EPLN).
Despite their low-profile approach, the Wissners contributed substantially to local organizations, including the Eden Prairie Crime Prevention Fund and the Eden Prairie Community Foundation.
Their philanthropic endeavors were particularly notable in their support of projects associated with Harris, a close friend of the Wissners before she died in 2001. In addition to the scholarship, their impactful contributions supported the construction of the Jean Harris Gathering Bridge at Purgatory Creek Park.
“The scholarship had been in existence, but due to their relationship with (Harris) and their desire to honor her legacy and invest in education in the community, they generously gave so we could endow the scholarship and make sure it lasts for many, many, many years,” Leeper said.
Due to the Wissner bequest, the scholarship program has seen significant expansion. Now, two graduating high school seniors with Eden Prairie ties are eligible to receive $1,000 annually for four years of post-secondary education at a four-year college or university. In addition, two seniors planning to attend a community or technical college, or a trade school, will be awarded $900 each year for two years.
“It’s gone from one scholarship to four, benefiting up to four students each year,” Leeper said, highlighting the impact of the bequest. “Additionally, it has transitioned from one-time funding to a renewable scholarship.”
Leeper noted the program’s broad eligibility: “It’s not just for Eden Prairie High School (EPHS) students, and not just Eden Prairie residents,” he noted. “We recognize that we have students from Eden Prairie High School who live outside of the boundaries, and we have Eden Prairie residents who attend other schools as well.”
To apply, students can find the necessary information on the Foundation’s website, Leeper said. He added that Eden Prairie High School (EPHS) students can also apply through the school’s multi-scholarship application process.
For more information, contact Leeper at email@example.com, or by calling (952) 949-8499.
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