The “Community” of Lopez Island Community Scholarship Foundation

By Mary Bywater Cross and Gretchen Wing

If you’ve recently read profiles on the new board members of the Lopez Island Scholarship Committee (LICSF), you may be wondering, “Who is this organization, and why should I care?” LICSF agrees that these questions are worth asking, so herewith—some answers.

In 2016, some education-minded Lopezians decided to form a more Lopez-focused foundation to support the unique needs of our graduates. The group—guidance counselor Jeanna Carter, Rip Van Camp, Linda Flodeen, Anne Burton, and Tom Cowan—wanted to do more than simply hand graduates a check and wish them “good luck” with college. Using seed money from a prior nationally-based scholarship program, Dollars for Scholars, the group created a $5,000 award spread over five years, with a mutually agreed-upon Lopez Advocate to provide additional support. Over the years, twelve impressive students have received funds, and LICSF will feature several in future profiles.

Recently the LICSF Board determined that national trends in post-high school education are changing too fast to understand without expert help. So, in 2021, it conducted several long-range planning sessions, led by Board member Peter Stamats, president of a national consulting business which provides marketing solutions to colleges and universities. The goal was to review national and local post-secondary trends, guiding the Foundation’s next steps. According to Stamats, “Education options for students and their families continue to focus most on employment opportunities, while keeping a close eye on overall cost.” Choices, he said, “are more varied. There are more two-year degrees and certifications providing good jobs in today’s markets.”

As a result, the LICSF Board expanded scholarship offerings last year to students seeking Career and Technical Education. A successful appeal for CTE funding, led by Rip Van Camp, resulted in LICSF’s first CTE award in 2022—the first of many, the Board hopes. This year, the Board is exploring funding possibilities for students taking a gap year, an increasingly popular choice. Local demographics, like national, are changing and diversifying. Along with an increase in overall enrollment, Lopez School now has 28% or more students from Spanish-speaking families in each class, and a slight decline in low-income student population. Over the next ten years, a 20% increase in the average senior class size is projected—up to eighteen students—with larger numbers expected in 2025 and 2027. Stamats observed, “Recognizing our local trends, the Foundation is actively seeking to provide a broader base of scholar support in the years to come.” Since 2022, scholarship applications have been available in English and Spanish, and this year, applicants will be given the opportunity to request help from a board member in completing the form.

Lopez parents express gratitude for the local aspects of the support. Chom Greacen, mother of 2022 scholarship recipient Sara Greacen, emphasized, “I’m very grateful that there is support from within the community that invests in our island youth’s success after high school.” Greacen also appreciates the LICSF scholarship’s Advocacy component. “It takes a lot for one to do well in college, especially coming from a small rural public school. To have [an Advocate] who has gone through a similar experience to talk to, rooting for Sara’s success, is very reassuring and helps keep her accountable to her own goals.”

Scholarship applications will be available in March. In April, watch for Student Profiles, displaying the Foundation’s mission in action. All of LICSF’s donations are invested in an endowment fund for growth, and a wealth management fund for operations and distribution.

To learn more, or to help LICSF support Lopez youth in meeting their chosen educational challenges, please visit