|Berkshire Business and Professional Women Accepting 2021 Scholarship Applications|
|By Brittany Polito, |
11:51AM / Tuesday, June 08, 2021
PITTSFIELD, Mass.— A local organization continues to support Berkshire County women in advancing their careers through education and certification.
The Berkshire Business and Professional Women (BBPW) are accepting applications for the 2021 Career Advancement Scholarship program that supports the unique needs of non-traditional women students through June 18.
For 2021, scholarship awards range from $250 to $2,500 based on the applicant's needs and merits.
BBPW has been awarding scholarships to Berkshire County women for almost 30 years. The goal is to alleviate financial barriers associated with pursuing further education, training, and credentials and targets those who are currently working and aspire to bolster their careers through continued education.
"The program has evolved and it's expanded exponentially in the last couple of years, just because of the ability to fundraise that we've had," Co-Chair of the Scholarship Committee Hannah DeLisle-Stall said, who received an award in 2013.
"and therefore, the more funds we raise, the more women we can help."
Scholarship applicants must be a woman who lives or works in Berkshire County, working or currently seeking employment, and enrolled in an institution of high education or professional development, license, certification, or re-certification program.
In the last few years, the organization has modified its criteria to meet a wider range of local women. BBPW now defines a "non-traditional" student applicant as any woman who needs financial assistance to take a course, pursue a degree, get a license, or take a certification exam.
This definition is applicable to multiple career paths and is more inclusive. In the past, the applicants have been focused on obtaining traditional further education such as a Bachelor's degree or a Master's degree.
"We don't want to lose out on being able to help women by having a really narrow definition of what it means to pursue an education that's going to advance your career," DeLisle-Stall explained.
The scholarship funds can be used for a number of things beyond the price of education such as transportation, supplies, and childcare.
"One of the unique things about our scholarship is that it can be used for college expenses that are well beyond just tuition or the cost to take the course," DeLisle-Stall said. "so many of our scholarship recipients in the past have used the scholarship towards transportation or child care or buying a new computer, all of these things, and oftentimes, they disproportionately impact women and all of these expensive expenses are often barriers to entry in terms of pursuing education that's going to advance our careers."
Fellow co-chair of the Scholarship Committee Ivy Rodriguez Campos is also a past BBPW scholarship recipient. Rodriguez Campos, who works as a financial and administrative coordinator for Williams College, said the grant provided a significant boost while she pursued her master's in business administration while working full time and raising four children.
In 2019, the organization reportedly grew "pretty significantly" and is now offering online programs.
BBPW usually hosts an annual Women of Achievement Gala event in the fall which funds scholarship efforts for the following year. Last year, the gala was postponed and replaced with a hybrid event at Balderdash Wine Cellars.
This was its largest gala to date and raised $27,890 for the Career Advancement Scholarship Fund.
DeLisle-Stall said BBPW is in the "very early stages" of planning a similar hybrid event for this coming fall.