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Focus on a Fund: The James F. Swift Scholarship Fund

“I am a first-generation college student, six weeks away from achieving a Bachelor of Science degree in Biochemistry…The James F. Swift Scholarship has been a true blessing in my life, in that this award provided me the security of covering a generous $4,000.00 towards my tuition on a yearly basis. This allowed me to spend more time focusing on my studies, instead of working 40 hours a week to pay for my education out-of-pocket.”

-Corey Smigiel
2013-2017 James F. Swift Scholarship recipient

This month, the Scranton Area Community Foundation is pleased to tell you the story behind a fund with humble beginnings, which grew to a multi-million dollar scholarship fund. Today, this fund provides up to 20 local students each year with thousands of dollars toward their educational expenses for four years. The name of this fund is the James F. Swift Scholarship Fund.

In 2006, a man who lived a quiet life passed away in Massachusetts. His name was James F. Swift. Although he shied away from attention during his life, he established a small scholarship fund with the Scranton Area Community Foundation in 2003 that provided one student with $500 each year to use toward educational expenses. Mr. Swift was especially concerned with helping students graduating from a Lackawanna County high school attend a two or four year degree program at a local college or university. For several years, the scholarship award remained at $500, helping one local student at a time pay their way through college.

After Mr. Swift’s passing, however, a large portion of his estate was placed into his scholarship fund. Using the same scholarship selection criteria he outlined during his life, the James F. Swift Scholarship Fund will impact the future lives of thousands of students. For generations to come, because of Mr. Swift, up to 20 students each year will receive thousands of dollars toward their education. If these students succeed in school, the scholarship can be renewed every year. By the time these students obtain their degrees, they will have tens of thousands of dollars less in student loan debt thanks to the thoughtfulness of Mr. Swift.

For Corey Smigiel of Moosic, the positive impact of Mr. Swift’s fund has reverberated through his life and bolstered his success. Mr. Smigiel will graduate from the University of Scranton in August; the first in his family to graduate from college. Following his graduation, he will continue his education at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, where he plans to become an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. To continue his studies, Mr. Smigiel was awarded the Todd Angelo Memorial Scholarship in 2017, which is also administered by the Scranton Area Community Foundation. In addition to being the first in his family to graduate from college, Mr. Smigiel is the first student in the Scranton Area Community Foundation’s 63 year history to receive both of these prestigious scholarships. Mr. Smigiel’s story is just one example of how the James F. Swift Scholarship Fund has changed lives for the better.

It is an overwhelming honor to administer these funds, which help individuals achieve their philanthropic goals and, simultaneously, assist students in furthering their education. The Scranton Area Community Foundation would be happy to discuss how you, like Mr. Swift, can create a lasting legacy through a planned gift that you shape during your life. If you would like more information about how you can make a difference in the lives of students today and for generations to come, please contact Rachel Drazdowski, Esq., Director of Philanthropy at the Scranton Area Community Foundation by email at racheld@safdn.org or by calling (570) 347-6203 ext. 302.