The Multicultural Scholarship is the new name for the former Students of Color Scholarship. The endowed fund provides financial assistance to qualifying students to diversify and enrich the school.
“We want our student body to better reflect the cultures and traditions of our city and the surrounding area, “says Paul Leaman, head of school. “We also want to increase access to an EMS education, and to enrich the EMS experience for students of all backgrounds.”
In the 1990s, a donor provided seed money to create a fund to support Laotian immigrant students from a local Mennonite church.
Following the death of George Floyd, EMS sought more tangible ways to address racial inequities and barriers in the culture at large and at EMS in particular. An unsolicited gift intended to support students of color, prompted review of the Laotian student fund and a renaming of the fund.
The Students of Color Scholarship Fund was named with input from a variety of people.. With promotion of the new fund, additional gifts came to the school and the fund doubled.
During the 2021-22 school year, Marsha Thomas, admissions counselor, heard feedback from some in our community that the term “color” harkened back to the pain of the pre-Civil Rights era. Subsequent conversations and surveys to seek more feedback in the fall of 2022 included:
- Families eligible for the scholarship
- Faculty and staff of color
- The EMS Equity Team
- Donors to the fund
- Alumni Board
- Advancement Committee of the EMS Board of Directors
Stakeholders considered naming the fund for individuals, biblical images or people, and many words and phrases. “The process deepened our awareness of the power of language to divide, confuse, wound or bring people together,” said Trisha Blosser, development officer. “We knew we wouldn’t find one word or phrase that was everybody’s first pick, but we learned a lot from this process and wanted to be as clear as possible.”
Eligible students can be in any grade and will have demonstrated financial need. Applicants can begin the process by starting the EMS application, which opens Nov. 1. See easternmennonite.org/admissions