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Sisters GRO History


Sisters Graduate Resource Organization (Sisters GRO) supports community efforts aimed at helping Sisters High Students obtain their post-secondary dreams by fostering the development of community and private sector resources. In 2006 a handful of community members recognized the need for an organization with the sole purpose of supporting Sisters High School graduates with post-secondary education and vocational training. Eight co-founders established the Sisters GRO, acquiring the IRS non-profit status, 501 (c) (3), on November 10, 2008.

There has been a long history of Sisters High School graduates receiving educational scholarships by local philanthropic and service organizations.  In recent years, the number of scholarships offered began to outstrip the Sisters School District’s ability to adequately administer the scholarship process.  In 2008, the then superintendent of schools, Elaine Drakulich, realized the need for assistance with managing the selection process and the collecting, disbursing, and accounting for scholarship funds.  It was at that point that Sisters Graduate Resource Organization stepped up to offer administrative assistance to those donors desiring help with awarding scholarships.

Laurie Adams, the SHS ASPIRE site coordinator and one of the eight original founders of Sisters Graduate Resource Organization, realized the need to assist the school district with the scholarship program and was instrumental in the Sisters GRO Board developing a standard application process for Sisters High.  In 2009, the GRO Board established a website which has become the “go to” place for students seeking scholarship assistance from local donors.  Thanks to Sisters GRO volunteers, Barb Hjelmstad and Sally Blust, a vast number of Oregon State and regional scholarships are posted and tracked on the web site as well.

With the need for increased scholarship assistance and the 2009 assumption of the administrative process by Sisters GRO, the organization became the only nonprofit in the community focused solely on the development of financial support for higher education for Sisters High graduates.  GRO is proud of having accomplished the following:

  • Fundraising to establish a scholarship endowment fund—the Sisters GRO Endowment for Dreams      developed with the Oregon Community Foundation
  • Establishing a fair, streamlined, scholarship application process meeting IRS requirements
  • Instated the “Spread Scholarship” option for donors to fairly distribute scholarship awards to more applicants (2013)
  • Developing lasting relationships with existing and new donors to help them support our graduates in pursuing higher education and training
  • Disbursement of local scholarships including communication with donors, student-recipients and institutions of higher learning
  • Fundraising to establish a scholarship endowment fund—the Sisters GRO Endowment for Dreams developed with the Oregon Community Foundation (2011)
  • Sponsorship of SHS Senior Celebration, where scholarship awards are presented and every senior (in attendance) is individually recognized.