When a firefighter dies in the line of duty, the family faces many challenges as they find their bearings and rebuild their lives. Oftentimes, children and spouses of these fallen heroes may not have the necessary funds that enable them to pursue their educational and career goals. Through the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation’s (NFFF) scholarship programs, the loved ones of the fallen can realize their educational dreams.
Applications are being accepted January 1 through April 1 for the 2019-2020 Sarbanes Scholarship Program which provides financial assistance to spouses, life partners, children, and stepchildren of firefighters honored at the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial. Scholarships are awarded for undergraduate and graduate studies, vocational-technical training, and certification and job training programs. They may be used for study at in-state or out-of-state public and private schools.
To be eligible, children must be under age 30 presently and have been under age 22 at the time of their firefighter’s death. All applicants must have a high school diploma or equivalency or must be in their final year of high school. Applicants must also be pursuing or planning to pursue undergraduate or graduate studies, a certification program or job skills training at an accredited institution and must be enrolled or planning to enroll as a full- or part-time student.
In 2018, the Foundation was the beneficiary of a generous donation by David Levy to establish the Alan Patrick Sondej Memorial Scholarship Fund. This scholarship will be offered on a bi-annual cycle and is designed to provide a scholarship that satisfies the full four-year cost of tuition, books, and where possible, room and board. To start the bi-annual cycle, the Foundation was able to offer a four-year scholarship award to a freshman and a two-year scholarship to a junior. The next four-year scholarship will be awarded in 2020 to a freshman.
Also, in 2018, the Foundation and its partners combined to award $338,921 to 80 applicants who are preparing for careers ranging from Social Work to Civil Engineering to Fire Science. Of the 80 recipients, 47 previously received scholarships and 33 were new recipients.
The U. S. Congress created the NFFF in 1992. The Foundation’s scholarship program began in 1997 and is named in honor of U. S. Senator Paul S. Sarbanes of Maryland, a strong supporter of education and America’s fire service family who authored the legislation creating the Foundation.
Together with assistance from generous donors such as Motorola and David Levy, along with the NFFF partnerships with ICMA-RC, National Association of Fire Marshals, Global Health and Safety and the Engine Company 5 Foundation, over $4,080,178 in scholarships have been awarded.