We sometimes hear from people in our community, “why is the Staples Tuition Grants mission focused
on Westport, a relatively affluent community with plenty of resources?” The reality is that despite
appearances, there are many households in our town that have difficulty bridging the gap between the
ever-increasing cost of higher education and their ability to pay for it. Nearly 50% of Staples High School
seniors applied for financial aid last year from a variety of sources, including STG. Yet this year STG is
only able to meet about 25% of the demonstrated need from our grant recipients. We absolutely have a
local need, and our donors’ generosity helps students achieve their dreams of attending college and
avoiding some of the crushing blows of student debt. A zip-code must not be a barrier to meeting
someone’s need for financial assistance. Those who donate to STG recognize that their gifts are an
investment in the futures of our recipients, many of whom return to Westport and contribute to the
fabric of this vibrant community after college.
Never has there been a year like 2020, at least not in the 78-year history of Staples Tuition Grants.
Covid-19 led to a global pandemic in March 2020 that meant Westport families had to adapt to a whole
new reality: the closing of local schools and the implementation of remote learning for the balance of
the school year. For Staples graduates who were attending college or vocational school, it meant
leaving campus to finish their school year remotely from home, summer jobs being taken away, and
parents and other caregivers losing employment and investment income. Suddenly there was increased
uncertainty in many more households in Westport on just how students and their families would be able
to meet the cost of their educations.
A small group of loyal STG donors approached our board with a proposition: What if we were to anchor
a fundraising effort aimed specifically at addressing the increased need by our 2020 recipients in the face
of this global pandemic? These generous and anonymous donors pledged $50,000 and challenged the
community to match it. Many people in Westport sprang into action, and in a few short weeks not only
did the community match this initial goal but beat our target to raise over $115,000 for the STG Covid-
19 Community Challenge.
All these funds were applied to our 2020 awards, using a supplemental essay question to direct the pool
to where it was needed the most. The result was a record grant pool of $374,000 – an increase over last
year’s $307,000. The average grant rose from $3,000 in 2019 to $3,500 in 2020, benefiting 107 students
attending 72 institutions of higher learning. A list of these schools is included in this Annual Report.
On behalf of the Staples Tuition Grants Board of Directors, our student grant recipients, and all those
who have benefited from STG awards in our 78-year history, we want to thank you for your support of
our mission and your generosity. While we do not know what the year ahead will bring, we know we
have the backing of this community to help ease the burden of many families who worry about their
ability to pay for school.
Ed Hulina & Glenn Payne
Co-Presidents 2020-21, Staples Tuition Grants