First Step to a Lasting Impact
For over 15 years, the Justice High School Scholarship Fund (JHSSF) has made it possible for more students to take their first step toward a college degree. Providing last-dollar, need-based scholarships to graduates of Justice High School (a highly-diverse, public high school in Fairfax County, VA), JHSSF closes the gap between financial aid awards and the real cost of college attendance.
Our scholarship recipients face more than the usual difficulties along their paths to a college education. Nearly three-quarters are the first generation in their families to attend college. Many of our recipients work during high school to help support their families, or regularly care for younger siblings while their parents work. Frequently, their hard working families are unable to provide any financial support for college. For those whose immigration status is uncertain, financing college – and their dreams of contributing meaningfully to their families and communities – is an even greater challenge. One student shared, “I currently have DACA and as an undocumented student, financing college was the most stressful part for me. I do not qualify for FAFSA or any grants so the scholarship definitely lessened the amount of money I had to pay.”
In spite of the obstacles our students face, their passion for learning and fundamental belief in the American Dream thrives. The JHSSF aims to help Justice HS seniors to overcome these challenges and realize their dreams of a college education. Through the years, we’ve found that many of our applicants aspire to serve others. Supporting these students’ college dreams encourages that spirit of giving, too. Our students know first-hand the difference a little help can make.
A 2020 survey of past recipients revealed the significant impact of JHSSF scholarships in easing their financial burdens. More than a quarter of respondents reported that they would not have been able to attend college without a JHSSF scholarship. As one student wrote, “My education would have been impossible without the scholarship from the Foundation. Forever grateful to the Foundation.” Over three-quarters of our recipients work while in college, with many juggling more than half-time work with a full course load. Nearly half of respondents said that our award enabled them to work fewer hours and concentrate their time on their academic studies. This allowed some to graduate on time. As one student remarked, “I was able to attain a degree in four years rather than taking longer because of a lack of funds.” Nearly two-thirds of our scholars expressed their gratitude for having smaller post-college debt burdens; our scholarships reduced the amount of loans they incurred.
More than just money, our awards give our recipients confidence. Each scholarship represents the faith of many others in the community; by giving to the JHSSF, donors demonstrate their belief in the students. They are rooting for our scholars to succeed with their studies and in life. Well over half of survey respondents acknowledged that their award boosted their confidence because of the trust placed in them. One student wrote movingly of the role our scholarship played in inspiring her during her first year of college. “Receiving the scholarship boosted my confidence in feeling like I was one step closer to being on an equal playing field. Going to a school where a majority of the students have their parents paying for the entire tuition, I feel like I will always be behind (even though we go to the same school). However, this scholarship basically acted as one of my parents helping me out at a time when neither of them really could.”
JHSSF donors create lasting impact for our recipients, our community, and our country. While each of our recipients is unique, there are many characteristics they share — hard working, ambitious, curious, resilient, determined, and grateful. They embrace opportunities and give back to their communities. Please join us in supporting these inspiring students on their journey to college and encouraging them to achieve their dreams.