Along with the General Fund of the CFU’s Scholarship Foundation there are also about eighty special endowment scholarship funds. These endowments are named after their donators, both the individuals and CFU lodges that established them.

Ahead of the spring session of the Croatian Fraternal Union, slated for the 2nd to 4th of May in Pittsburgh, the Croatian communities of America and Canada recently published in the Zajedničar periodical the results of the scholarships granted by the Croatian Fraternal Union’s Scholarship Foundation Inc. The committee of the Scholarship Foundation sat in session with members Edward W. Pazo, CFU national president, Bernadette Luketich-Sikaras, treasurer, and members Franjo Bertović, Marion Vujevich, Robert Luketić, Paula Lucas, Michaela Ricci and Derek Hohn. On behalf of the CFU national board the CFU Scholarship Foundation Inc. granted 245 scholarships for the current academic year. The current CFU Scholarship Foundation campaign kicked off, as we reported, half a year ago with a notice published in the Zajedničar on the 18th of November (Pittsburgh, PA, 2015) in which CFU national president Edward W. Pazo asked members to make donations and publish messages in the official organ of our oldest emigrant organisation to join the campaign to provide scholarships to pupils and students, with the funding drive usually completed at the start of the calendar year.
Educational mobility and university educations for youth are one of the key goals of the CFU of the USA and Canada, which has for almost six decade successfully provided scholarships to pupils and students, thereby providing for a direct increase in the social mobility of American Croatians on the social ladder of the most developed country in the world, all through the CFU Scholarship Foundation. Over recent decades the assets of the CFU Scholarship Foundation from its General Fund and the funds of some eighty special endowment funds has continually grown and allowed for an average of 250 scholarships to the awarded every year. Last year, however, the CFU awarded 231 student scholarships for a total amount of 186,700 US dollars. The current number of scholarship holders, considering that the global financial crisis is behind us, has happily grown and 245 scholarships have been granted in a total amount of 198,950 US dollars for the 2015/16 academic year.
According to CFU national president Edward W. Pazo, “This is money students need never repay to our Union. When the Scholarship Foundation met at its autumn session on the 29th of October of 2015 it reviewed requests filed by students for the 2015 to 2016 academic year, examining the tender documentation in accordance with traditional fraternal criteria, with a strong emphasis on social sensitivity for the most impoverished segments of society. Scholarships ranging from 300 to 1,500 dollars were granted from the Foundation’s General Fund. We also granted scholarships from other individual foundations established by the wills of donators, CFU lodges and related Croatian organisations given to philanthropy on the North American continent. The names of students and donators were published in the Zajedničar issue of the 6th of April 2016. It is evident that students of Croatian extraction are studying at prestigious institutions of higher education across the North American continent. At the most recent session of the Scholarship Committee it was announced that a new individual, i.e. the 82nd such scholarship foundation, would be created. This is the Louise Birt Fund with an initial sum of 25,000 US dollars. The Fund enjoys great prestige among our membership and among our many early scholarship recipients – who have returned the love of the Union and its philanthropists in kind and with monetary contributions to coming generations of students and pupils. Truly miraculous! The circle of love and benevolence is ever more effective. We are profoundly grateful to the enthusiast that have over the years, and in particular during the holidays, supported through their contributions this important foundation for the education of the young people of the Croatian Fraternal Union.”

 

It should be noted that CFU lodges, near the close of this donation drive for the education of young CFU members, have contributed almost two hundred thousand hours of volunteer work in humanitarian and culture work to their domicile society and about a million dollars to needy people.
“Ever since this education programme was set up in the late 1950s the Croatian Fraternal Union has granted over three million US dollars in grants through scholarships to almost nine thousand students. We at the CFU lean towards our old tradition of helping within our possibilities young people acquiring an education at universities and colleges and various schools across America. The CFU long ago recognised the importance of investing in human potential and the education of young people and we believe that we will continue to do so. Among the many fraternal programmes and membership benefits, we can proudly say that the youth scholarship programme is without a doubt among our most valuable education programmes. We care for students and pupils of lower social conditions and for those whose giftedness guarantees success in the elite academic community of America. The CFU provides them with support in the phase of life when they need it most. Education, as we all know, is very costly everywhere in the world and increasingly inaccessible to many families. We understand what a challenge this is for both children and their parents. That is why we are very happy when we can use the Scholarship Fund to at least in some measure provide monetary support to these kids and their parents,” said vice president for CFU membership services Franjo Bertović who, among other things, is currently organising a CFU soccer (football) tournament to be held in Pittsburgh from the 10th to 12th of June 2016.
The establishment of the Scholarship Fund began at the 9th CFU convention half a century ago with an initial endowment of a few thousand dollars. CFU members Filip Vukelić and Stjepan Brkić were among the first to advocate for the idea among the membership of our hundred-year-old fraternal organisation on the North America continent. They proposed that members contribute the money they would have spent sending Christmas cards to relatives and friends to a Scholarship Fund. In return the Zajedničar, the chief official organ of the CFU would publish the names of all donators and their Christmas greetings to relatives and friends. Today when the world is awash in free electronic greetings and messages though the Twitter platform and other mobile Internet social networks, the Zajedničar continues to encourage its readers and CFU members to make monetary contribution to the Scholarship Fund with their holiday greetings.
Along with the General Fund of the CFU’s Scholarship Foundation there are also about eighty special endowment scholarship funds. These endowments are named after their donators, both the individuals and CFU lodges that established them. Without a doubt this is the best education programme in the history of the Croatian emigrant communities and its 122-year-old fraternal movement, thanks to all those who joined the CFU scholarship campaign and whose membership prides itself on its philanthropy in the local emigrant communities across the USA and Canada. We know, of course, that philanthropy in the USA is numbered in multiple billions of dollars. American Croatians, however, in keeping with their financial status, set aside as much as they can from their families, amazed, as are others, at the amounts reported by the American Chronicle of Philanthropy, such as the amazing sums of money in Zuckerberg donations or those of the late oil tycoon George Mitchell. We in the Croatian emigrant community, however, still stick with the old folk saying: brick by brick to a house!

Text by Vesna Kukavica