By Michael Morse – Florida Catholic


The Catholic Community Foundation of Southwest Florida Inc. has awarded the first Mary Fran Carroll Scholarships for non-traditional students.

Made possible through the Catholic legacy of Mary Fran Carroll and her generous gift to the Foundation, three academic scholarships of $3,000 each were awarded to residents of Sarasota County. The 2017 Mary Fran Carroll Non-traditional Scholarship recipients are: Jennifer Griffon, Annalia Rissman and Rhonda Robinson.

The scholarships were open to adult learners who were returning to school to obtain a college degree or vocational certification. All qualified applicants were required to be out of high school for three or more years and had serious financial circumstances that prevented them from originally pursuing their educational objectives.

The new scholarship was announced March 23, during which Bishop Frank J. Dewane noted that Mary Fran Carroll was a successful businesswoman who dedicated her life to her faith, to fun and to charity. “Mary Fran embodied all of these things in the way she lived” the Bishop said. “Through her incredible generosity, she wanted to make it possible for others to do the same things in their life.”

Carroll gave a gift of $3.6 million to establish the scholarship fund to help others achieve career success through her legacy. Carroll was committed to providing opportunities to those individuals willing to work hard to make a difference in the community.

Scholarship applicants were asked to complete an online application and financial needs assessment, in addition to submitting a clearly articulated career plan describing their chosen course of study. Students needed to be accepted into an accredited college, university or vocational program.

The Foundation Scholarship Committee carefully reviewed applications before determining the worthiest applicants. The scholarship can be used for tuition, books and fees. Scholarships may also be renewed annually up to a total of five academic years for students maintaining a minimum unweighted GPA of 3.2 or greater, while also making progress toward their career goal.

The Catholic Community Foundation of Southwest Florida Inc. was established to provide philanthropic opportunities for individuals, such as Mary Fran Carroll, to create lasting gifts in support of Catholic programs and ministries within the Diocese of Venice. Last year alone, the Foundation distributed $1.2 million in endowed support for Catholic Schools, Parishes, Seminarian education, programs for the needy, college scholarships and more.

Michael Morse is the Executive Director of the Catholic Community Foundation and can be reached at 941-441-1124 or To learn more about the Catholic Community Foundation please visit

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