Josephine Marley Beckwith Scholarship

The Alton YWCA is on a mission to empower young women from the Riverbend community by helping to further their post high school education. We do this through the Josephine Marley Beckwith Future Leaders Scholarship, awarded in conjunction with our annual Women of Distinction dinner. This scholarship, first awarded in 1991, is named after Mrs. Beckwith to honor her achievements and dedication to education, eliminating racism and empowering women, all part of the mission of the YWCA.

Josephine Marley Beckwith was born in East St. Louis, Illinois on March 22, 1915 and passed away in August, 2017. She was employed by the YWCA of Alton and was the first person of African descent to be employed by the Olin-Matheson Corporation. She also worked as a secretary and office manager of the Educational Opportunity Center at SIU-E. Mrs. Beckwith was known as a civil rights pioneer, educator, mentor and a community organizer. Mrs. Beckwith was an honoree in the YWCA of Alton Women of Distinction Class of 2002.

Mrs. Beckwith believed in the value of volunteering and community involvement. In addition to her work with the YWCA, she worked with the River Bluffs Girl Scout Council, Lewis and Clark Community College, the Oasis Women’s Center Pre-Employment Training Program, the National Council of Negro Women, and the Elijah P. Lovejoy Memorial. She was especially noted for her efforts to educate and enfranchise all people, particularly through her work with the Alton school system desegregation committee, culminating in the establishment of the first kindergarten for black children in Alton and passage of the bond issue for a new Central Junior High School in 1945. Her other noteworthy activities include participating in the desegregation of Alton’s Grand Theater, chairman of the education committee of the Alton NAACP, member of the Madison County Urban League Education and Employment Committees, and member of the League of Women Voters.

The JMBFL Scholarship is awarded each year to one or more high school senior girls who plan to continue education beyond high school. The young women are selected based on their leadership, volunteerism, community service, and academic achievements with a heavy emphasis on their activities that support the mission of the YWCA.

Click here to find out more about this year’s scholarship application process and time table, as well as the application and instructions for applying.

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