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Carolyn Watson: Making a Difference in Rural Oklahoma

Carolyn WatsonCarolyn 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.

Grants Program

The Carolyn Watson Rural Oklahoma Community Foundation awards grants to improve the quality of life in rural Oklahoma communities through two grant programs:

Classroom Enhancement Grants - Designed to enhance and enrich learning opportunities for students in rural Oklahoma, classroom enhancement grants are awarded to pre-K through 12th-grade classrooms for projects focusing on arts and humanities, science or literacy. Learn more.
Next grant deadline: Sept. 2020 – More details coming soon.

Community Grants - Designed to improve the quality of life for rural Oklahomans, community grants are awarded to qualified nonprofit organizations or entities of state and local government for projects that will positively impact the community in the areas of arts, culture, history, libraries and literacy. Learn more.
Next grant deadline: Jan. 31, 2020. To receive access to the online grant application, please request via email to s.astrin@occf.org by 5 p.m., Friday, Jan. 24.

Network Community Grants – The Carolyn Watson Rural Oklahoma Community Foundation trustees established Network Community Grants in April 2019. By collaborating with nonprofit partners with the proven capacity and expertise to provide programming in multiple rural communities, these grants are designed to have a broader impact by reaching more people in underserved rural communities. Learn more.
Next deadline: To be announced.

Questions? Please email us at info@ruraloklahoma.org.

Scholarship Program

In 2010, Carolyn established the Carolyn Watson Opportunities Scholarship to help individual students graduating from Oklahoma’s rural high schools. 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. Starting in Fall 2019, the scholarship amount for students entering the program increased to up to $12,000 per academic year. 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.

To apply for the Carolyn Watson Opportunities Scholarship, click here.