In 1992, President of the Wilmington Women in Business (WWB) Board of Directors, Mary E. Maloney presented a proposal to create a WWB scholarship program which would help adult women return to college to improve lifestyles and opportunities for themselves and their families through education.
In 1996, her dream became a reality when Mary and Joyce Hayes, the 1996 WWB Board President, brought together a small group of women to establish the scholarship program. The program was designed to target adult women in need who were returning to school seeking to transform their lives through education. In essence, it would provide a “fresh start” for these women.
The first scholarship was awarded to Delia, a student majoring in accounting. As a single mother, Delia was homeless after leaving an abusive marriage and living in a car with her four children. She went on to earn her Associates Degree in accounting with a 4.0 GPA, accepted a position in the financial industry, and secured a home in a safe neighborhood for herself and her children. Since then, similar stories have been repeated many times as women in need are identified and supported both financially and emotionally by the volunteers of Fresh Start.
In the same year, the WWB Board authorized the formation of a charitable foundation to raise funds and award scholarships. In October, the foundation was incorporated and the first Board was appointed with Mary E. Maloney as President.
- WWB Foundation, Inc. filed for 501(c)(3) status as charitable foundation.
- Amendment filed with state of Delaware to change the name of WWB Foundation to Fresh Start Scholarship Foundation
- Advisory Board established.
- AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and E. I. duPont de Nemours became inaugural founders of Fresh Start.
- Annual campaign designed to increase friends of Fresh Start by soliciting donations to support scholarships
- Formal mentoring program established
- $5,000 grant received from Fund for Women
- Signature event was initiated
- Key metrics established to measure success of scholars and impact of Fresh Start on their lives
- Tenth Anniversary Luncheon held at the DuPont Country Club with more than 300 guests
- The Fresh Start Awards program initiated. Recipients are:
- Inspiration Award, the Honorable Ruth Ann Minner, Governor, State of Delaware;
- Champion Award, Sarah Harrison, Vice President and Executive Healthcare Consultant, AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
- Fresh Start Graduate Achievement Award, Suzie McKaskill, Instructor, Delaware Technical and Community College.
- Fresh Start Video, sponsored by WSFS Bank and friends of Fresh Start presenting the stories of three scholars, was shown.
- Officially adopted the following vision and created three key strategies to ensure it would be realized: “Create an all volunteer sustainable foundation to continually grow the number and size of scholarships and mentoring strengthen services for women in need.”
- An endowment fund at the Delaware Community Foundation was established to ensure the financial sustainability of the organization.
- Second phase of sustainability focused on leadership success and included:
- Revising bylaws
- Clarifying roles and responsibilities of board members
- Modifying organizational structure to strengthen board, increase its diversity and provide for leadership succession.
- Naming Rita Wilkins, President of the Fresh Start Board of Directors effective July 1, 2013, succeeding Mary Maloney who served as Board President for 17 years since the inception of Fresh Start.
- Fresh Start celebrates its 20th anniversary!
- Sarah Kenney elected as third Board president.
- $1 million in scholarships awarded since founding in 1996!
- New bylaws were adopted to accommodate the dissolution of WWB.
- Michele Whetzel elected as fourth Board president.
- Fresh Start holds its first-ever virtual fundraising event.