All posts by bernies

Awards Dinner Celebration

Awards Dinner Invitation – May 23, 2019

The Awards Dinner Celebration honoring our 2019 Bernie Scholars will be held on Thursday, May 23, 2019. Please RSVP by emailing

The event will be held at the Executive Office Building, located at 101 Monroe Street in Rockville, Maryland.

2018 Effectiveness Study Findings

The 2018 Effectiveness Study had a 36% increased response rate over the 2017 Effectiveness Study.

Twenty (20) of the respondents were new awardees and it will be a goal to keep the lines of communication open by creating an Effectiveness Study designed to track the progress toward stated outcomes for this group of recipients.

Twenty-five (25) of the respondents have received two or more awards; half of these awardees received back-to-back awards (in 2017 and 2018). Additionally, twenty-three (23) of the respondents have applied for a 2019 Bernie Scholarship Award.  Our challenge will be to measure the effectiveness of multiple awards on education completion rates and increased standards of living.

Ninety-eight percent (98%) of the respondents are still enrolled in school or have completed a degree or certificate program. 

First Friendraiser a Success!

BSAP welcomed about 80 guests to the first annual Friendraiser on April 5, 2019 at the Arts Barn in Gaithersburg, Maryland. The program introduced guests to two awardees who spoke, Erika Granville & Natanel Assefa. Advisory Board member Otis Smith was emcee, and Chris Ullman, International Whistling Champion, was the keynote speaker. Silvio Renzi, BSAP Co-Chair also spoke along with Francene Walker, Director of the Montgomery College Foundation’s (MCF), who described the new relationship between MCF and BSAP.

The Friendraiser most definitely was a great and wonderful event..a beautiful space and the ambiance was “Warm and Joyful”… looking forward to much more to help promote and raise awareness of the Bernie Scholarship Foundation.

Erika Granville

It’s Volunteer Week!

The Montgomery County Volunteer Center's 50+ Volunteer Network can help you find volunteer opportunities that fit your particular combination of skills, interests, and availability. The program's advisers will help you determine not just what you can do, but what you want to do, and connect you to these options at nonprofits and government agencies.

In just one year, the program has placed hundreds of volunteers at a broad range of agencies in a variety of opportunities as tutors, courtroom monitors, professional coaches, counselors, communications and marketing specialists, grant writers, IT consultants, board members, attorneys, event planners, intake coordinators, mediators, mentors, program managers, strategic planners, tax preparers, and more.

Want to hear from 50+ Volunteer Network volunteers about their experiences? Watch this video highlighting several of the program's volunteers and the agencies they serve. Then, email and get started!

BSAP Chosen by Women Who Care

The Bernie Scholarship Awards Program, our 501(c)3 nonprofit, was chosen by the 100 Women Who Care of Lower Montgomery County to receive a monetary contribution which will have a significant impact for the community.  The 100 Women Who Care of Lower Montgomery seeks to address a charitable need in our local community and to collectively use our individual resources to make a monetary contribution that will make a significant impact to the charity.  See

Theresa Wells and Tonia Harries
Board member, Theresa Wells and Tonia Harries, married mother of 3, 3-time awardee who is working full-time & taking online full-time college courses & will graduate in May 2019, presenting for Women Who Care.

A special thank you goes to Theresa Wells and Tonia Harries for their presentations. We also thank Margaret Magill, WWC member who invited us to speak, and WWC’s President, Linda Mathuran.

BSAP would also like to thank all of the contributors of Women Who Care. Please see our thank you letter to WWC.

Theresa Wells – Presentation to WWC

I would like to thank you for the opportunity to speak tonight on behalf of The Bernie Scholarship Awards Program.  I appreciate that each of you are here tonight because you believe in the value of giving back and providing opportunities to others. 

The Bernie Scholarship Awards Program was started in 1995 when Bernie Tetreault retired after 24 years of service as Executive Director of Montgomery County’s public housing agency, Housing Opportunities Commission. Our organization is a 501(c)(3) non-profit AS a component fund of the Greater Washington Community Foundation.  Since its inception, the Bernie Scholarship has provided over 500 scholarships and a total of $625,200 to deserving students.

·       Our goal this year is to award 65 or more, if we have even more eligible applicants, awardees $1,500 each, which means we’ll need to raise at least $97,500.

·       Our scholarship applicants are low-income residents of subsidized rental housing in Montgomery County; they are graduating high school seniors & other adults 18 & older, and some are Dreamers.  98% pursue college degrees, 2% vocational certificate training.  We are most proud of our awardees, because 98% have completed a college degree or are continuing their studies!

·       This year, we have over 85 applications.  

 I would like to underscore the impact of each of these awards to the recipient.  Without these funds, these students would be unable to further their education.  Our assistance may alter the path of the life of a student.  As an organization, we are committed to the success of our awardees, we provide mentoring/coaching and follow them through their educational journey.

 I joined this nonprofit as a Board member this year.  Last summer, I began my search for a personal connection to a charitable organization that I could serve.  I am from a blue-collar community in western Maryland.   I grew up in Cumberland as a daughter of a tire factory worker.  My parents instilled in me from a very early age the importance of a college education and motivated me daily to do the absolute best I could in school so that I could have career opportunities that they did not.  My parents wanted more than anything for my sister and I to be the first college graduates in our extended family.

 Because money was short, I looked to scholarships and grants to enable me to go to WVU to study engineering.  Without this assistance, attending college may not have been possible.  This is why I identify so closely to this foundation.  In a way, I feel like I am paying it forward.

 My college education provided a life changing foundation.  In 1987, I moved to the DC area, and have worked in finance and telecommunications positions, but I always gravitated toward healthcare information systems and policy.  After 30 years, I currently have my dream position as a project manager on FDA key policy initiatives for the Office of the Commissioner.  The projects that I work on such as opioid abuse and teen vaping are critical to public health. 

 I hope that you can see in me an example of what your contribution can do.  It can be life changing.  Education can be the key to lifting a person from public assistance to self-sustainment.  This self-sustainment for me has meant that I was able to raise my 4 daughters with goals of their own.

 Thank you for this opportunity to share with you the Bernie mission and my personal story.   I know firsthand how important it is to put together the motivation, finances and external support to ensure student success.  It is our hope that we will be able to count on your support so that we can provide this to deserving students in Montgomery County.

Friendraiser is this Friday!

The Friendraiser is right around the corner and we need YOUR help! Please get the word out about this special and unique event. Tickets are still available and are just $20. We will have the following speakers:

  • Champion whistler and inspirational speaker Chris Ullman
  • Superbowl Champion Otis Smith
  • Scholarship awardee Erika Granville
  • Scholarship awardee Natanel Assefa

Check out our media release for this event, and get your tickets today!


Women’s History Month is March 1st

March 1st marks the deadline for the Bernie Scholarship Awards Program, but it also marks the start of Women’s History Month.

Since 1972, Title IX has provided the right to education free from sex discrimination. With Title IX, women and girls have been able to make great strides toward sex equality in education, but many serious obstacles remain.

One of these obstacles is single parenthood, an issue disproportionately affecting women. According to US Census data, approximately 82.2% of custodial parents are mothers. For single parents, who are supporting children, going back to school can seem like an impossible dream. The Bernie Scholarship Awards Program strives to make these impossible dreams possible.

Many of Bernie Scholarship’s 500-some recipients have been single mothers working to achieve their academic and personal goals of upward mobility. One of these recipients is Yvette Hammond, a single mother who, through a Bernie scholarship, completed her Bachelor’s of Science degree and is now enrolled in a Master’s degree program. Because of Yvette’s hard work and dedication to her education and family, she was able to rise above her challenging circumstances, get a full-time job in Community Health, and purchase a new home.

To all the strong, intelligent, and hard-working single mothers, if you are looking to go (back) to school – whether for college or vocational training – the Bernie Scholarship Awards Program is here for you. Celebrate Women’s History Month by taking another stride towards equality in education and submitting your application to become a Bernie Scholar.

Timeline for Summer Internship Seekers


Finding & Researching Opportunities

Internship hunting can be daunting. If you’re not sure where to your search for internship opportunities, here are a few places to look:

  1. Your college’s career center
    1. Many colleges have an online database of internship opportunities you can search from
    2. Make an appointment with a career center counselor to go over your interests and ambitions and see if they can point in the right direction
    3. Many career centers also offer workshops on resume writing, practice interviews, etc.
  2. Your professors
    1. Professors are constantly doing research and may have some summer research opportunities available or know of one
    2. If there’s a particular class you’re interested in, go over your specific interests and ambitions with your professor and see if they can recommend a company, colleague, etc. doing similar work
    3. Many times (summer) fellowships require professor recommendations, so it’s always a good idea to establish a working relationship with a professor so that they can write you a good recommendation later on
    1. Interested in a government opportunity? Find internships for current students and new grads on the website
  4. Industry blogs, websites, and even social media accounts
  5. Internship/job search engines
    1. The Muse, Monster, LinkedIn, Indeed , etc.
  6. Company Website
    1. If you already know which companies you’re interested in, head directly to their website and see if they have any openings on their career page
  7. Your mentor
    1. Reach out to your Bernie mentor and ask if they can assist you with this or with any part of the internship seeking process

Once you start job searching, it can be easy to spiral down a rabbit hole of listings. Stay on top of internship priorities and deadlines by creating a spreadsheet, on Google or with Excel, to keep track of the opportunities you’re interested in. Some important things to record:

  • Name of internship opportunity
  • Company
  • Industry
  • Paid or unpaid
  • Location
  • Materials needed for the application
  • Deadlines
  • Name and contact information of the hiring manager
  • Name and contact information of any connections you have at that company

You can narrow down a final list to apply to based on certain priorities like paid or unpaid, location (affects transportation & housing costs, pay), etc.


Once you’ve gathered all your application materials and have had someone else to review your resume and cover letters, start submitting them! You can reach out to contacts in your network that may work for that company to let them know that you’re interested and ask if they’d be willing to refer your application.


En Process

If a company responds to your application, make sure you respond quickly. A good rule is to always respond within 24 hours. This is the time you will start getting interview offers.

Tips on preparing for the interview:

  • You can reach out to your network, alumni, etc. and see if anyone has insight into their interview process.
  • Do some research via Glassdoor and other similar websites.
  • Go through each responsibility listed on the internship posting and write a related skill, class, or experience that shows you are a good fit. Remember these for the interview.
  • Interviews require formal business clothing. Business attire is expensive. If you are not able to find affordable options, organizations like Dress for Success and the Hope Program offer free professional clothing for those who need it. Do not be afraid to use the programs that are out there to help you.
  • The interview is your chance to get clarification on any ambiguities you may have encountered – is the internship paid or unpaid, are you the only intern, how big is the intern class, are there any direct-hire opportunities after graduation?


Decision Time

You should have most of your offers in by now. All that’s left to do is to determine which offer most closely meets your interests, priorities, and budget. If you are relocating for the internship, now is the time to figure housing out.


Preparing for the big day!

Make sure that everything is in place for when your internship starts – housing, method of transportation, paperwork. Make sure you know where the office is, work hours, office dress code, and if there’s anything you need to bring on your first day.

Landing an internship is mostly staying organized, being prepared, and following up, so make sure you are staying on top of things! Good luck!