Making a better community for Greater Oklahoma.
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.
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 STEM, Literacy, History and Arts & Culture.
Designed to improve the quality of life in rural Oklahoma, community grants are awarded to qualified nonprofit organizations or entities of state and local government for projects and programs that will positively impact designated communities in the areas of 1) Arts/Culture/History, 2) Libraries/Literacy and 3) Health & Safety.
Network Grants were established 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 areas.
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.
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The scholarship has provided me with so many opportunities, I cannot begin to express how grateful I am for the way this scholarship impacted my educational and professional journeys.
I never dreamed I would actually receive the scholarship. I had a summer internship lined up at the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, so I talked about that in my interview, and I guess it went well. When they called me and told me I got it, I couldn’t stop crying.
I did not have a passion for learning unitl my experience here. I was a simple kid, from a normal background, that wanted nothing more in life than what I had already been exposed to. Looking back, I cannot imagine my life if I had not received and taken advantage of this opportunity.
A lot of kids in my town don’t get to go to college, so for me to be able to pursue my dreams of advocacy and research and playwriting, the Carolyn Watson Scholarship has changed the course of my life.
It really lives up to its name. You can take it anywhere and use it on any portion of your education. It’s truly an opportunity, and I will be forever grateful for the confidence it has given me in life.
As we looked at our ability to take our Mobile Smiles program around the state, we realized that going into rural communities – to smaller towns across Oklahoma – had to be a hallmark of what we were doing. The Carolyn Watson Foundation has made that absolutely possible.
The award has been a tremendous help for me. Receiving this award three years in a row has shown me that hard work pays off, and it gives me the incentive to do well in college.
This grant allows our school system to build our unique learning opportunities outside of the classroom and actively engage students in STEM learning concepts.
I’m about to graduate, and I’m considering law school. I don’t think that I would have been able to consider that next step if not for the Carolyn Watson Scholarship.