The History of LEAF…CLCA's Scholarship Program
Since 1977, one of the main focuses of the Auxiliary has been the financial assistance to students pursuing careers in the landscape field, both at the state and local levels. Each year, the Auxiliary coordinated fundraising events with the full support and involvement of the CLCA membership. They then awarded the profits to deserving students attending California colleges and universities with recognized landscape programs, thus “reinventing the wheel” year after year.
In the mid-1980s, a proposal was presented to the State Women’s Auxiliary, wherein a tax-exempt foundation would be established which would house and manage perpetual scholarships established by individuals, companies, and CLCA entities. Donations, tax deductible to the extent allowed by law, to these funds would earn interest from investments as set forth by its Bylaws, and ONLY THE INTEREST would be awarded as scholarships each year, thus insuring the principal would remain in tact. The Women’s Auxiliary enthusiastically approved this proposal, and thanks to the efforts of many dedicated individuals from the Auxiliary, CLCA, and the Associate Member Organization, the Landscape Educational Advancement Foundation (LEAF) was formally established in 1988. Since that time a total of 13 chapter, 24 memorial, 2 honorarium, 1 company, the CLCA Women’s Auxiliary, and the AMO funds have been established totaling $746,141.04.
Each year applications are mailed to colleges and universities with recognized landscape programs. Students must return completed applications by the April 15 deadline. The Scholarship Selection Committee then carefully evaluates returned applications and rates each applicant based on goals, extra-curricular activities, work experience, financial need, letters of recommendation and grade point average in their major. To date, the CLCA Women’s Auxiliary and LEAF have awarded 607 scholarships to 506 students totaling $392,275.
In 1995, a grant program was proposed as an opportunity to provide financial assistance to landscape programs for special needs (projects, equipment, tolls, etc.) in all educational levels, not just to individual college level students. After careful planning and developing criteria the grant program was established. To date, we have three grant funds: the Educational Grant, the North Coast Women’s Auxiliary Grant, and the CLCA Environmental Research Grant. Ten grants have been awarded, including one sent directly from the CLCA Women’s Auxiliary just prior to the start of the program, totaling $57,960.14 And the combined principal value of these grant funds has grown to $145,546.51.
The establishment of a scholarship or grant is a very easy process. A written request or commitment letter may be submitted to the LEAF Board of Trustees, including some details and history of the namesake of the fund to be established. At the present time $5,000 is the minimum balance required in order for the actual scholarship to commence. Namesakes of the funds do not necessarily need to be directly involved in CLCA as long as the scholarship is awarded according to the established guidelines. Specific criteria (i.e., student attending a specific school, student attending a school within a designated geographic area, or student with a permanent residence within a designated geographic area) can be stipulated.
Making an individual donation is also a very easy process. You may wish to commemorate a special anniversary, birthday, milestone or achievement with a donation to your fund of choice directly to LEAF, or donations can be included in your CLCA membership renewal. You may also want to consult with your financial advisor and consider an option called planned giving. As an IRS-recognized 501©3 tax-exempt educational foundation, CLCA’s Landscape Educational Advancement Foundation enables you to do well for yourself by doing good things for the industry. Contributors personally benefit from tax savings, while at the same time, provide a perpetual fund of scholarship/grant dollars.
The State Women’s Auxiliary continues its fundraising efforts with the unending and much appreciated support and participation of its members and you, the members of CLCA. The chapter honorarium and memorial funds continue to grow, thanks to the fundraising efforts of the chapters who established them. Several events have proven to be extremely successful. Suggestions and guidance are available to anyone or any group interested in a commitment like this. Remember, your contribution is a way of giving something back to the wonderful industry that has provided your family its livelihood. Gifts to LEAF ensure an enduring source of capital to support future leaders of the landscape industry by fostering educational excellence.