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Our Mission and Vision

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, Chief Sealth, 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.

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.

Our History

Creating the Scholarship Fund

In October 2006, Harry Leavitt (Mercer Island High School class of 1965) attended the Bellevue and Seattle public appearances of Illinois Senator Barack Obama. Shortly thereafter Harry asked his friend Tony Nugent (MIHS class of 1958), “Did you know that Senator Obama’s mother graduated from our high school?”

Tony didn’t know this, but was curious and began, with Harry’s help, to conduct research on the Senator’s mother. The more they researched, the more they realized how extraordinary Dunham’s life and career were, and how important her time in the Seattle area (1955-60, 1961-2) had been for her later life. This led to Tony composing a scrapbook, entitled “Stanley Ann Dunham: Her Seattle and Mercer Island Years,” and sending it, three years later, to (by then) President Obama and his sister Maya Soetoro-Ng.

During those years it also seemed fitting to honor Dunham’s memory locally by establishing a scholarship in her name at Mercer Island High School. In 2009 Tony, Harry, classmates of the President’s mother at MIHS in the class of 1960 (incl. Iona Stenhouse & Susan Blake), other alums (incl. Dayna Cole), and Mercer Island residents (incl. Lowell Ericsson), began talking and meeting about the idea of a scholarship for senior girls who demonstrated adherence to Stanley Ann’s values of educational excellence, leadership, and community service. In early 2010 they launched the Stanley Ann Dunham Scholarship Fund, and that June, 50 years after Stanley Ann’s graduation in 1960, they awarded the Fund’s first scholarships.

1960 Yearbook, Mercer Island Yearbook

Tony Nugent and Jim Wichterman, one of Stanley Ann’s teachers at MIHS

Founding board member Harry Leavitt