Viviana was working at a daycare, managing to cover her daily expenses while attending Inver Hills Community College and studying public relations and advertising, with the dream of one day working in television. Then her employer decreased Viviana’s hours without warning, leaving her with bills she couldn’t cover. Because her college is involved in Scholarship America’s Dreamkeepers program, Viviana was able to apply for emergency funding to cover $340 in car insurance and phone bills.


“Without the funding, I wouldn’t have been able to take my car to school, and I wouldn’t have continued with my classes. I was feeling so down and sad and frustrated,” said Viviana.


Viviana grew up in Mexico and moved to the U.S. three years ago after learning she was born here. “My mother was not able to finish elementary school, but she had a love of learning that she passed on to me. The level of education is so much better here and you have a lot of opportunities for school, volunteer activities, work, and things like that,” said Viviana.


Viviana added, “It is important to me to have an education, so I can support myself and provide my family with a better life.”


"We measure our lives through 'defining moments,' and receiving a Dollars for Scholars scholarship of $200 in 1972 was one of those moments for me. I had no idea what an influential companion Dollars for Scholars would be on my life’s journey!


"That $200 scholarship helped to propel me toward my BA, an MSW, and two decades of teaching undergraduate courses at two local colleges. Dollars for Scholars continued to help me as a parent when all three of my children received scholarships from CSF of Westfield. With gratitude in my heart, I joined the CSF Board of Directors seven years ago. This is my fourth year as the president of our Dollars for Scholars chapter here in Westfield, and this extraordinary organization continues to enhance my life!"


Each year, Scholarship America honors outstanding volunteers from across our nationwide Dollars for Scholars network – including one student volunteer who has gone above and beyond the call of duty throughout their high school career in service of their community. In 2011, we were pleased to honor Benjamin Klontz of Lake Tapps, Washington, as our Dollars for Scholars Student Volunteer of the Year.


Throughout his four years of high school, Ben logged an amazing 2,500 hours of community service in a wide variety of areas; one teacher who submitted a recommendation told us that “he is the first student to whom I have given the approbation ‘Renaissance Man.’”


Those activities included volunteering with national organizations like Habitat for Humanity, the Boy Scouts (Ben made the rank of Eagle Scout in 2008) and the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life; Ben also spent time with local groups like the Veteran’s Memorial Park Project and the Auburn Food Bank, and took three mission trips among a number of volunteer efforts at his church.


In school, Ben participated in an array of extracurriculars, and his athletic participation also turned into work as a swimming instructor and lifeguard. And, what’s more, he did this all while maintaining a 4.0 GPA.


Ben is planning to study medicine with the goal of opening his own clinic. As one of his recommenders told us, “To me, he’s one of those people who will do something great with his life and make a huge difference in the world.” We agree, and that is why Benjamin Klontz stood out as the 2011 Dollars for Scholars Student Volunteer of the Year.



"I felt saved."


That's what Vanessa Lucera told Scholarship America, after a grant from our Dreamkeepers program helped her stay in school in the face of an unexpected financial crisis. In this video, meet Vanessa and other students who have been able to go "from dream to finish" thanks to Dreamkeepers.


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