Thanks to the generosity of sponsors from our local community and beyond, the President’s Challenge Scholarship (PCS) assists first-generation Ulster County high school students with overcoming financial barriers associated with attending college. Students are identified in the eighth grade by their school district and receive mentoring and college readiness support through the completion of high school. Upon graduation, student are able to attend SUNY Ulster tuition-free for two years.
The PCS Program began with just six students from Rondout Valley Central School District in 2016. Today, over 300 scholarships have been awarded to students from all nine Ulster County public school districts.
To apply, 8th-grade students must be first-generation college students, have an 80% cumulative GPA (75% in their four core classes – English, math, science and social students) and have an 85% or better attendance record in school with minimal discipline infractions or a strong recommendation from a teacher or school administrator. Applicants must complete an essay at the time of their application and if selected, participate in an interview process. Preference is given to students with economic need.
Each year, scholarship recipients participate in activities on the SUNY Ulster campus and at their school district to support college readiness. Students and their sponsors also have a chance to connect during the year at on-campus events.
Special thanks to SUNY Ulster’s champion and most prolific donor, the late Ms. Darlene L. Pfeiffer for making the future of PCS possible with a $1,000,000 endowment to support program administration.
We are also thankful for Richard and Donna Croce who have donated more than $120,000 to PCS since the program’s inception in 2016 and who currently sponsor 17 students.
Thanks as well to the Johnson Scholarship Foundation (JSF) of West Palm Beach, Florida.
In 2019 and 2020, JSF supported PCS with a $100,000 grant to sponsor 14 students. In the fall of 2021, JSF provided additional financial support for both student scholarships and program administration in the amount of nearly $400,000 over five years!
We remain forever grateful to our inaugural donors President Emeritus Alan P. Roberts, Richard & Donna Croce, Tim & Laurel Sweeney, Bill & Brenda Spearman, Anita Williams Peck (deceased), who was our Foundation Board Chairman during the launch, the Dominic J. Giamei, Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund, Nik and Nelda Gerner, and President Emeritus Dr. Robert T. Brown, to whom the PCS Program was dedicated in 2017. Much gratitude is also given to the many donors who have supported this program over the years. We are especially grateful to those donors who have sponsored multiple students as well as our Program Ambassadors who continually support fundraising efforts Kathleen Cloonan, Barbara Cohen, Rich & Donna Croce, Olana O’Connor, Dale Robbins, and Tim & Laurel Sweeney.