Carolyn Watson was a woman of action and understood the value of blessing others with the gifts she was given. The longtime chair and CEO of Shamrock Bancshares wanted to improve the quality of life for the residents living in the rural southern Oklahoma communities where her banks are located. Born in Ada, Okla., and a graduate of East Central University, Carolyn knew well where the needs and opportunities existed. In 1995, she established the Carolyn Watson Rural Oklahoma Community Foundation and in 2010, the Carolyn Watson Opportunities Scholarship. Through these permanent endowment funds at the Oklahoma City Community Foundation she has provided teaching enhancements for classrooms, community literacy programs at public libraries and scholarships for students in designated rural Oklahoma communities. Carolyn died on March 17, 2014 at the age of 86. She leaves behind a truly meaningful legacy that will benefit future generations of rural Oklahomans.
Since its inception in 1995, the Carolyn Watson Rural Oklahoma Community Foundation has awarded more than $800,000 in grants to improve the quality of life in rural Oklahoma communities through two grant programs. The Classroom Enhancement and Community Grant Programs initially targeted seven Oklahoma communities where Shamrock Banks were located. In 2015, the Trustees expanded the grant programs to serve 20 rural Oklahoma counties: Adair, Atoka, Bryan, Caddo, Cherokee, Choctaw, Coal, Greer, Harmon, Haskell, Jackson, Johnston, Kiowa, Latimer, Le Flore, McCurtain, Pushmataha, Sequoyah, Tillman or Washita. Eligibility for the grants is further determined by the National Center for Education Statistics rural locale codes for public schools and community population. To learn more about each grant program, click on Classroom Enhancement Grants or Community Grants.
Application deadline is March 1, 2017
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Carolyn also wanted to help individual students graduating from Oklahoma’s rural high schools. In 2010, she established the Carolyn Watson Opportunities Scholarship that offers an award of up to $10,000 per academic year to eligible graduating high school seniors who want to attend college but may not be able to afford it. To qualify, students must attend high school in one of 62 rural Oklahoma counties, have financial need and have demonstrated academic ability based upon a minimum grade point average of 3.25. Recipients may renew the scholarship each year for up to four academic years as long as they maintain a 3.0 grade point average. Students must be nominated by a teacher or community leader and demonstrate exceptional accomplishments outside of the normal classroom environment.