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Claude P. Thompson Scholarship Fund

This need-based scholarship fund is to provide support to further the post-secondary education of students residing in a non-traditional home or to further the education of a single parent.

History of the Fund

This scholarship was created in memory of Claude P. Thompson by her son. Claude was born during the Depression and raised in Hughes, Arkansas, by her single mother who, through extraordinary efforts, ensured that Claude attended college. She attended the University of Mississippi and graduated from Southwestern College, now known as Rhodes College. She married shortly after graduation, and in 1953 gave birth to her only child. Similar to her peers, and as was the middle class custom of the day, she became a homemaker focused on her son’s sports activities, elementary school, church and civic activities, and other family matters.

In the late 1960s, she divorced and was subsequently abandoned financially by her ex-husband at the same time that her elderly mother’s failing health required that she relocate to Memphis to reside with Claude and her son. Suddenly, Claude found herself as the sole financial provider and caregiver of both her elderly mother and her teenage son.

Claude next attended a local occupational school to learn clerical and administration skills. She became employed at the University of Tennessee Medical School in an entry-level clerical position soon after. She worked hard to ensure that her son had a supportive environment, and she maintained a personal commitment that he would attend a university away from Memphis to challenge him and foster his independence. It became clear his senior year of high school that the family’s economic circumstances would not allow for Claude to afford tuition at an out-of-town institution. As plans were made for him to attend Memphis State University, her son received notification from the University of Mississippi that he had been awarded a financial aid package that covered both tuition and room and board. Claude’s non-wavering faith and hard work had been rewarded.

Claude served as administrative assistant to the Head of Neurosurgery at the University of Tennessee until a crippling illness forced her into an early retirement at the age of 64. She died in 1990 from complications of rheumatoid arthritis. On her tombstone, her son had the following inscribed:

Your courage and faith are my rudder and my keel,
your spirit is the wind beneath my wings.

This scholarship is established to support those who apply their faith and efforts to overcoming challenging economic and home environments in order to persevere and to leverage their gifts and talents to take advantage of their opportunities.

Eligibility Requirements

For the purpose of this scholarship, single parent is defined as a parent, grandparent, sibling, or other family member raising a child or children as the sole provider. A non-traditional home is defined as a home headed by a single parent.

All applicants must:

  • be a child living in a non-traditional home;
  • be graduating high school seniors;
  • be a Shelby County, TN resident;
  • have a minimum 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale;  
  • participate in extracurricular high school activities;
  • be involved in the community through volunteer activities with a nonprofit or other community group;
  • be accepted by and plan to attend an accredited vocational or technical school, two-year, or four-year college or university;
  • demonstrate financial need; and
  • submit the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis scholarship application form and required attachments.

-   OR   -

  • be a single parent seeking to gain additional education or occupational skills that will enhance his/her earning capacity to provide an improved environment for his/her minor children;
  • be a Shelby County, Tennessee, resident;
  • be accepted by and plan to attend an accredited vocational or technical school, two-year, or four-year college or university;
  • demonstrate financial need; and
  • submit the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis scholarship application form and required attachments.

A complete application includes:

  • completed Community Foundation of Greater Memphis scholarship application form;
  • one-page personal statement outlining education or career goals;
  • current letter of recommendations;
    Students must submit two letters, one written by a teacher and one written by a parent or guardian. Parent may submit only one letter, written by an employer
  • most recent high school transcript (students only);
  • copy of your ACT and/or SAT scores (students only); and a
  • copy of your Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) Student Aid Report (SAR) and Expected Family Contribution (EFC) information, OR your College Scholarship Service (CSS) Profile.

This scholarship may be awarded to more than one student each year. The total amount available to award is $5,000.

Applications for this scholarship are due April 3, 2017.