The Stanley Ann Dunham Scholarship Fund works to empower young women to be leaders and active world citizens through education and service. Each year, we provide college scholarships to graduating senior women from Mercer Island and Rainier Beach high schools who demonstrate commitment to the values of social activism, global service, and educational pursuit that Dr. Stanley Ann Dunham practiced in her life and work. Our vision is to bolster opportunities for inspired young women from diverse high schools in and around Seattle so they can continue their leadership and create meaningful change in the world.
Our Mission and Vision
(2017 Board Chair Clare Meeker, Scholar Emily Au, and Selection Committee Chair Maxine Box)
Who we are
Established in Mercer Island, Washington in 2010, this scholarship fund honors Dr. Stanley Ann Dunham, a 1960 graduate of Mercer Island High School. Dr. Dunham dedicated her life to working with marginalized communities around the world and lifting women out of poverty, all while raising her two children, President Barack Obama and Dr. Maya Soetoro-Ng. Our all-volunteer board is made up of educators and other professionals from the Mercer Island and Seattle communities. Dr. Soetoro-Ng is a member of our Advisory Council. In 2017, we were proud to partner with the Seattle Foundation to establish the Stanley Ann Dunham Scholarship Endowed Fund. The goal of the Endowment is to sustain our organization’s mission into the future, so we can continue to empower young women for generations to come.
What we do
Since 2010, we have awarded 19 scholarships to graduating women from Mercer Island High School and Seattle’s Rainier Beach High School which has 97% minority enrollment. Our annual award ceremony recognizes the accomplishments of all the scholarship finalists whose strong academic records and focused volunteer work have made a difference in the lives of others in the wider community. Recent speakers at this event include Dr. Maya Soetoro-Ng, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee, and 2017 Seattle mayoral candidate Nikkita Oliver.
Creating the Scholarship Fund
In 2009, Harry Leavitt (MIHS 1965) asked Tony Nugent (MIHS 1958), “Did you know that President Obama’s mother graduated from Mercer Island High School?” Tony was curious and he began to conduct research about Stanley Ann Dunham.
The more Tony researched, the more he realized how extraordinary Dunham was. In addition to being the mother of the 44th president, she earned her Doctorate in Anthropology and pioneered a microfinance model that is still in use today around the world.
It seemed fitting to honor Dunham’s memory locally by presenting a scholarship in her name to Mercer Island senior women who demonstrated her values of education, leadership and community service. With the help of Harry and others, Tony approached Dunham’s classmates, MIHS alumns, and residents of Mercer Island. Together they created the Stanley Ann Dunham Scholarship Fund in 2010, 50 years after Stanley Ann Dunham graduated from MIHS.