Scholarship History

NC Safewater Endowment Program:  Looking Back/Looking Ahead

As we humans age and mature from infancy through senior citizen, we pass through several stages of development.  Many times along this continuum of life, we may pause to reflect on our experiences and the events that have influenced the development of the person we have become at that stage in life.  We may also take time to ponder our vision for our future and how we may achieve that vision.  This concept of human development is very applicable to the creation and growing of the NC Safewater Endowment Program.  In this article, I will provide information on the establishment of the Endowment Program, events and individuals that have influenced the growth of the Endowment Program from its infancy to its pre-adolescence stage (three years old) and a vision of what a more matured and well funded Endowment Program could accomplish.


Establishment of NC Safewater Endowment Program

In 2008, Steve Shoaf, Chair of NC AWWA-WEA appointed an Endowment Task Force to evaluate the feasibility of developing a sustainable funding source for:

  • Increasing water environment education in schools, and
  • Expanding the Association’s support of scholarships for students attending four-year universities and community colleges.

The members of the Endowment Task Force were Doug Bean, Glendon Fetterolf, Don Francisco, George Raftelis, Joe Stowe, and Darin Thomas.  Darin was elected chair of the task force.  Steve Shoaf appointed Les Hall as the Board Liaison with the task force. Over a period of about eighteen months, the Task Force met with several individuals who had expertise working with funding programs that provided financial assistance to individuals similar to our target recipients.  After reviewing the information gleamed from these meetings, the Task Force decided to hire a consultant to determine the level of support our members may have for an endowment program.  He conducted an electronic survey of all of our members and a person to person survey of more than 30 leaders of corporations and utilities.  Based on his findings, he concluded that the members would support an endowment program. After reviewing the consultant’s report and evaluating other information its member had collected, the Endowment Task Force agreed that it was feasible to establish an endowment for the purpose of promoting safe water, increasing knowledge and understanding of safe water, and preserving and enhancing the water environment.  The Board of Trustees of NC AWWA-WEA approved the recommendations of the Endowment Task Force in September, 2009.  These recommendations included:

  • Allocation of $25,000.00 from NC AWWA-WEA reserve fund for the initial funding of The NC Safewater Fund
  • Approval of the Public Education Committee donation of $25,000.00 to establish The Carol Bond Fund.
  • Adoption of Policies and Procedures Endowment
  • Approval of an Endowment Committee and appointment of the members of the Endowment Task Force as its initial members.
  • Approval of establishing an agency fund with Triangle Community Foundation.

In the opening paragraph of the Policies and Procedures Endowment document, the Board of Trustees of NC AWWA-WEA states that it “establishes the NC Safewater Endowment as a permanent Board-designated agency fund for the purpose of promoting safe water, increasing knowledge and understanding of safe water, preserving and enhancing the water environment.  The primary means for accomplishing this purpose is to provide scholarship funds to individuals who seek assistance in order to complete a course of study emphasizing the protection of public health by providing healthful drinking water and/or protecting the quality and integrity of the water environment.  In addition, the NC Safewater Endowment Fund will award funds to assist educators in providing enhanced water environment education to registered students and/or the public.”  The Board of Trustees has continued to support the Endowment Program from its inception to its present stage of development.


Growth of the Endowment Program

From its inception, the NC Safewater Endowment Program’s growth has been fueled by pledges and donations from individuals and firms. Highfill Infrastructure Engineering, P. C. made the first major pledge of $10.000.00 in March, 2010.  In July, 2010, George and Eva Raftelis founded the first “Named Fund”; Raftelis Foundation Elementary Education Scholarship through a donation from their Raftelis Foundation.  In December, 2010, Les and Elaine Hall made a pledge of $25,000.00 to fund “The Les and Elaine Hall Water Environment Stewardship Fund” as the second “Named Fund” created from donations other than  NC AWWA-WEA two initial “Named Funds” In the spring of 2011, the Endowment Committee decided to launch its first organized fund raiser: “NC Safewater Fund Raising Initiative of 2011”.  Each of the more than 30 members of NC AWWA-WEA who volunteered to participate agreed to contact 10 to 20 potential donors that he/she had selected.  In addition to several smaller donations, six of the individuals/firms contacted during the fund raising initiative agreed to pledge $25,000.00 each in order to fund the six new “Named Funds”.   In June, 2012, an anonymous donor made a pledge of $25,000.00 to fund the eleventh “Named Fund”.   All eleven of these “Named Funds” along with the name of the donor are listed below.  We are very thankful for the individuals and firms that have given at this level.

Vision for the Future of NC Safewater Endowment Program

One of the findings that the consultant presented in his report was that after he had reviewed all the data collected in his surveys, he had concluded that a philanthropic culture did not exist in NC AWWA-WEA.  In organizations that do have a philanthropic culture, almost all of their members feel a commitment to support causes sponsored by their organization with their time and resources every year.  If a philanthropic culture existed at NC AWWA-WEA we would expect that almost all or our 3300 members would contribute time and/or resources to support and help grow the assets of the NC Safewater Endowment Program.  For example, if each of our 3300 members contributed $2.00 per month ($24.00 per year) to the Endowment Program, we could grow the assets by $79,000.00 each year.  The earnings from this increase in assets would generate over $3,000.00 to fund scholarships and grants each year in perpetuity.  This means that each year, NC Safewater Endowment could increase the number of students and teachers who are awarded scholarships and grants.  The Endowment Committee has a vision that one day, a philanthropic culture will exist in NC AWWA-WEA and that all of our members will contribute to the Endowment Program. We also think that NC Safewater Endowment Program will continue and improve the legacy that NC AWWA-WEA has related to providing education to water professionals.  If we sustained a growth of assets of $100,000 per year, the Endowment Program would have assets of over $1,000,000.00 within the next seven years.  (NC Safewater Endowment Program has received pledges of over $344,000 as of June 30, 2012).  With assets at this level, NC Safewater  Endowment Program would be a significant provided of scholarships and grants to students and teachers.  We envision that NC AWWA-WEA would receive recognition of its support of education and training of water professionals from outside entities such as universities, school systems, governmental agencies and the public.


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