A need-based scholarship that has helped college-bound Oberlin students will be renamed in honor of its founder, who died earlier this year.
The Oberlin Community Youth Scholarship Fund will be called the Ruby N. Jones Community Scholarship Fund.
Founded two decades ago, it has awarded more than $200,000 in scholarships to 42 graduates. The nonprofit organization is volunteer-run and money is collected by donations from clubs, churches, businesses, and community members.
Jones was always reluctant to have the fund bear her name because “it had never been about her,” said chair Delbert Mason.
She worked for 25 years at Langston Middle School in various roles on the playground, cafeteria, and in the hallways. As a result, she knew almost every child by name and could see their potential, Mason said.
The last thing Jones wanted was for a lack of money to prevent those kids from pursuing their dreams after high school.
Unlike other scholarship funds, the goal was to help students who are at the bottom of the pack, Mason said.
“They are not the kids that are the top three or four in the class. They are kids who have drive, determination, and an idea of what they want to do, but need a boost of financial and personal encouragement,” he said.
Oberlin College professor A.G. Miller was recruited by Jones to be among the first members of the committee.
“She was humble and she humbled you,” Miller said. “She was such a pillar in this community — how do you turn her down? It only takes one round of interviews with students to hook you forever.”
The scholarship is available to students who live in Oberlin school district. The first, of $5,000, was awarded in 1998. Since then, it has grown to $6,000 given over a four-year period.
The award is not enough to fund even a single year of most colleges, Mason said, but it does provide important assistance and encouragement that many students need.
“It was a very ambitious idea,” he said. “To have no resources and not really have any funds herself to do this, but to be bold enough to go ahead and try it, to believe that it was not a pipe dream.”
Laurie Hamame can be reached at 440-775-1611