Coral Gables Community Foundation awards $53K in college scholarships

Pictured (l-r) are scholarship winners and presenters Carlos F. Garcia, Maria Yow, Juliana Robles, Camila Conesa, Janise Guyot-Cabada, Ibeth Funes, Ahylin Carballo, Teague Scanlon, Valerie Montesino, Allyssa Dobkins, Daniel Regalado, Sierra Reid and John O’Rourke III




A special evening marked the third annual reception for the Coral Gables Community Foundation ’ s Merrick Society.

Dedicated to continuing city founder George E. Merrick’s vision for Coral Gables, the Merrick Society represents the Foundation’s highest levels of giving, where donors make a three-year commitment of support at the $1,000 level and higher.

Friends and supporters gathered at the Bacardi Headquarters in Coral Gables to celebrate the Foundation’s charitable giving, as well as to honor recent community grant recipients and present scholarships to deserving students.

Foundation executive director Mary Snow opened the night’s program by thanking Bacardi for hosting the event in its beautiful space and recognized all those associated with the Foundation, including the board of directors and Merrick Society members.

Coral Gables Community Foundation chair Carlos F. Garcia spoke about the Foundation’s 24-year history of directing nearly $5 million through charitable contributions in areas such as the arts and culture, education, health, historical preservation and green space. Garcia emphasized the local impact that Merrick Society donors make.

“Our Merrick Society members are such an important part of our giving,” Garcia said. “Their generosity allows us to give back in meaningful ways that add to the footprint of the Foundation and enhance the quality of life in Coral Gables.”

In the weeks leading to the reception, the Foundation’s Community Giving Committee met to review grant applications from a number of local non-profit organizations. Five deserving organizations were chosen to receive grants, totaling $23,000 from the Foundation. John R. Allen Jr., chair of the Community Giving Committee, and Garcia announced the following 2015 community grant recipients:

May Van Sickle Dental Clinic — The May Van Sickle Dental Clinic received an $8,000 grant to purchase a new dental chair for the clinic, which provides critically needed dental care for children of the working poor. The dental clinic is volunteer run and operated out of the Coral Gables Women’s Club. Mayra Dominguez, Dorothy Thomson and Gloria Burns accepted the grant award.

Coral Gables Preparatory Academy — The Foundation’s $5,000 grant award to the Coral Gables Preparatory Academy will support the middle school’s fine arts and performing arts programs and productions. Principal Cheli Cerra received the grant award on behalf of the school.

Children’s Bereavement Center — The Foundation’s $2,500 grant will help fund the Children’s Bereavement Center’s peer support groups for children affected by the loss of loved ones. Children’s Bereavement Center CEO, Mindy Cassel, was in attendance to receive the grant.

Ponce de Leon Middle School — The Foundation presented a $5,000 grant to Ponce de Leon Middle to assist with the school’s beautification efforts in purchasing benches and tables for the school grounds. Principal Martha Chang accepted the school’s grant award.

SCORE Miami-Dade — The Miami- Dade Chapter of SCORE received a $2,500 grant from the Foundation to support its Simple Steps Program, which provides business and financial education information for veterans in the Coral Gables area to enhance their opportunities for employment and sustainability. Orlando Espinso was in attendance to receive the organization’s grant award.

Also during the reception, 12 students received college scholarships from the Foundation and its funds. This year, the Foundation created and presented a new scholarship — The Coral Gables Community Foundation Four-Year Scholarship. This award was created to assist students with critical financial need and will provide each recipient with $2,500 a year for four years toward their college tuition.

Through its funds, the Foundation also presented eight scholarship awards, bringing its 2015 scholarship contributions to a grand total of $53,000. Coral Gables Community Foundation chair-elect John O’Rourke and Garcia announced the following scholarship recipients at the reception:

Coral Gables Community Foundation Four-Year Scholarship — Allyssa Dobkins, Coral Gables High: $2,500 a year for four years; Valerie Montesino, Coral Gables High, $2,500 a year for four years; Juliana Robles, Coral Gables High, $2,500 a year for four years, and Teague Scanlon, Coral Gables High, $2,500 a year for four years.

Kerdyk Family Music Scholarship— Camila Conesa, Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart, $2,500, and Maria Yow, Coral Gables High, $1,500.

Ralph V. Moore Scholarship for Cavalier Excellence—Daniel Regalado, Coral Gables High, $1,000.

Lady Suzanna P. Tweed Scholarship — Elliot Kutmus, Coral Gables Senior High, $1,000.

Grant and Bridget Daugherty Nursing Scholarship — Sierra Reid, Coral Gables High, $1,000.

Culinary Arts Fund Scholarship — Ahylin Carballo, Coral Gables High, $2,000; Ibeth Funes, Coral Gables High, $2,000, and Janise Guyot, Coral Gables High, $2,000.

“We are so proud to award these 12 talented students with scholarships. Our Merrick Society members’ generosity, our fund holders and all of our efforts throughout the year make this possible,” Snow said.

For more information about Coral Gables Community Foundation, visit