News: NC Safewater Endowment Fund

Endowment Update: Investing in the Future of Our Water Environment

Thursday, May 3, 2018  
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Originally published in the Spring 2018 edition of NC Currents


Linnell Stanhope, NC Safewater Endowment Fund Chair


Clean water is essential to our lives, yet America’s water infrastructure is at a critical point. The American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) 2017 Infrastructure Report Card rates the country’s drinking water and wastewater systems at a D and D+, respectively. As we face aging infrastructure and workforce turnover, it is time to take action and invest in the future of our water.


 The NC AWWA-WEA Board of Trustees established the NC Safewater Endowment Program in 2009 with the goal of promoting safe water, increasing knowledge and understanding of safe water, and preserving and enhancing the water environment. The Endowment Committee oversees the management, growth, and scholarship distributions of an Endowment Fund that supports students and educators in the water industry. Each year, as a new committee chair takes the helm, the committee looks to build on past success and strengthen new areas. The 2017 Endowment Committee, led by Chair Frank Stephenson, had a successful year. The fund grew through fundraising dinners, contributions made online at, Hazen and Sawyer’s donation from their Annual Golf Tournament, and gifts to the 12 named funds. That success came with significant effort from committee volunteers, staff, and the support of the NC AWWA-WEA Board of Trustees. This year, as the incoming Chair, I will strive to maintain that momentum as we continue to work towards creating a selfsustaining fund.


 The Endowment Fund awards $14,000 in scholarships each year. Scholarships are awarded to community college and university students, and educators at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Last year, the committee added an Operator Scholarship to be used for certification/ licensure, technical schools, professional training programs, two-year water-related associate degrees, books, manuals, and operator-related conferences.


 Over the past few years, we have awarded multiple scholarships for $1,000-$1,500 per student per school year. The cost of education continues to grow, however, and students are struggling with ever-increasing tuition costs. The goal has always been to increase scholarship amounts as the fund grows. The Endowment Committee believes that the time has come to raise the distribution to $2,000 per scholarship to provide greater financial relief for those pursuing and providing an education. It is our responsibility to invest in our future by helping students and educators today. After all, we can only make a brighter tomorrow by taking constructive action now.


 You can help by going to the NC AWWA-WEA website and clicking the orange “DONATE” button. No donation amount is too small. Even a gift of $10 per member would have a significant impact on the growth of the fund. A one-time gift, multiple small donations, or an automatic monthly contribution can be accepted. You can learn more about the Endowment Fund and the named scholarship funds by visiting In the coming years, we will need to rely on the wisdom of experienced leaders and the energy of incoming leaders. Rapid economic development and urbanization across many regions have made us vulnerable to unsustainable consumerism, lifestyle changes, and environmental degradation. Environmental challenges, such as air, water, and soil contamination; depletion of natural resources, including energy and water; and increases in all types of waste create challenges and opportunities within our industry. Now, more than ever before, we need bright, creative minds with a desire to solve the environmental challenges that we are facing. Our industry is in the midst of transitioning to the next generation of leaders. Our challenge is to ensure that the incoming leaders of tomorrow are prepared to tackle the environmental issues that they will encounter.


 The response to fundraising initiatives has been positive and has strengthened the Endowment Program’s ability to reach our annual goals as we aim for a self-sustaining fund. Members of the Endowment Committee extend their appreciation to all those who have contributed to the mission of the Endowment, and who have done so much to work towards its goals. Our belief in a strong future with adequate quantity and quality of natural resources remains as strong as ever. We work to ensure this belief is a reality through our commitment to the NC Safewater Endowment Fund. Thanks for your continued support.

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