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11 Sarasota teens named Townsend Scholars; awarded two-year college scholarships by Steven and Marjolaine Townsend

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By Leonela Tasé Sueiro

Eleven teen members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties were named Townsend Scholars on Thursday, May 20 by the Steven & Marjolaine Townsend Scholarship Fund in collaboration with Take Stock in Children and BGCSDC in the program’s fourth year. The Townsends established the scholarship in 2018 in hopes that it would empower students to pursue their dreams and ultimately grow into a position where they are able to give back and help others do the same one day—to ‘pay it forward’ just like they have done.

The 11 students recognized will be able to use their scholarship to cover two years of tuition at a Florida college of their choice—from technical or vocational school to four-year institutions— alleviating their families of much of the stress and strain that comes with navigating the college financial landscape.

The students are selected based on relevant criteria such as being active members of BGCSDC, being enrolled in grade 6-9 at a public Sarasota County school, having demonstrated financial need, and having consistent school attendance and a minimum 2.5 GPA. Once awarded the scholarship, the students have access to a school mentor, a Take Stock in Children Success Coach, and various Take Stock in Children events and workshops to prepare them for success beyond high school.

Steven and Marjolaine Townsend have been making post-secondary education more accessible since 1999, when they established their first college scholarship fund in Connecticut, where they both are from. Both were the first members of their respective families to attend college, so education has always been important to them. They have adopted it as their life goal to help as many young people as possible get access to an education they might not otherwise have.

“Education is a door to the whole world. It helps you to get a good job, but it also exposes you to so many things you might not ordinarily have had an opportunity to do. We just want to expose people to all the things that they can do,” Marjolaine said.

 “Remember, when you go through life, and your journey takes you to where you are in a position to help others, then pay it forward. Pay it forward,” Steven said to the students being recognized.

The outstanding teens were:

Marcus A., Booker High School

Mario E., Sarasota High School

Kara F., Venice High School

Makayla G., Booker High School

Renick G., Imagine School

Samantha L., Riverview High School

Samantha M., Booker High School

Azariah S., Booker High School

LaVondre U., Booker High School

Ashley V., Venice High School

Makaela W., Suncoast Polytechnical High School

We are so fortunate to have a piece of Steven and Marjolaine’s hearts here at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties. For many of our teens, the Townsend scholarship is an incentive to pursue their dreams through secondary education. Among our recipients this year, there are aspiring healthcare workers, business owners, educators, and community leaders. The Townsend scholarship is an investment in their future.

“I want to become a nurse or a music producer. This scholarship will help me by leading me in the direction and steps to following that path,” said Samantha M., a ninth grader at Booker High School and one of this year’s scholarship recipient. “I will pay it forward by putting my best effort in everything.”

To learn how you can help Club members pursue their dreams and achieve success in and beyond their Club, please visit to make a donation today.

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