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'Slipper Scholars' Get a Golden Shot

November 15, 2007
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It's no secret that a college education is getting harder and harder to afford.

The Golden Slipper Club and Charities has helped in that regard, offering scholarships since the early 1940s. Now, in the hopes of providing more substantial assistance to deserving students with an economic need, as well as increasing the prestige of its awards, the charitable organization has revamped its "Slipper Scholars" program.

In recent years, Golden Slipper -- which also runs a camp in the Poconos and a senior center in Bala Cynwyd -- handed out an average of $500 to about 40 students each year, essentially enough for some textbooks.

Now, according to Michael Finkelstein, co-chair of the Golden Slipper Scholarship Committee, the number of recipients is being symbolically reduced to 18 -- a chai -- and the amount of assistance increased to $8,000 over the course of four years.

While Finkelstein, 36, admitted that it won't solve all the woes a family faces when the tuition bill comes due, he assured that every little bit helps.

"We are honoring a smaller number of kids who are really special," said Finkelstein. "There are not that many opportunities to get full scholarships. Most students have to work hard to put a series of scholarships together."

Finkelstein explained that the impetus for change came from several longtime members and donors, including former club president Norman Zarwin, who wanted to create longstanding endowments for specific scholarships. The plan is for all 18 awards -- to be handed to a new batch of students annually -- to bear a benefactor's name.

Two of the 18 scholarships will be set aside for incoming freshmen at Drexel University, as stipulated by a 1950 endowment.

"I don't think a scholarship program exists in the community to the scale I think we're talking about," said Zarwin, 77. "My hope is that it will grow."

Zarwin added that he hopes recipients may one day become involved with the charity.

In 2006, Golden Slipper sold, for an undisclosed sum, the Northeast Philadelphia nursing home it had operated for years. Finkelstein said that funds from that sale will not go toward the scholarship program, although that could change in the future.

The scholarship is open to students in the Greater Philadelphia area, though no specific geographic parameters have yet been set, according to Finkelstein. While Golden Slipper is targeting Jewish students, the scholarships won't be exclusively limited to Jews.

According to the application, financial awards will be based on academic performance, leadership, service, career goals and financial need. Applications are due Dec. 31.

To learn more, call 610-660-0510 or log on to: www.goldenslipperclub.org.

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