When Norm McGrew called a meeting of the Coaching Staff at Interlachen Country Club in late fall of 1996, the agenda made no mention of what was to become the most significant action of the organization since its founding.
Coaching staff members discussed the idea of giving something back to the community in the form of a scholarship. As enthusiasm for the idea grew, McGrew was asked to leave the room. Quickly, it was decided to name the scholarship for McGrew in recognition of his many years of behind the scenes service in running Dunkers. Because McGrew was a proud graduate of Minneapolis Washburn, it was decided to honor a student from Washburn in 1997 and to move the scholarship on an annual basis throughout the seven Minneapolis public high schools. The award would be made to a person who excelled in sports, academics and, most importantly, community service.
Sid Hartman, a long-time friend and constant agitator of McGrew, was the first to point out the obvious flaws in the system. "Now that we've decided to award an annual scholarship, I propose we award two scholarships, one to a boy and one to a girl each year."
McGrew, laughing that he was worried about his future, rejoined the group and said he was thrilled with the action.
The next spring, at what was to become an annual function, Washburn seniors David Brust and Kimberly Sue Gessner, became the first McGrew Scholars.
Each year Dunker members pay an annual $100 McGrew Scholarship fee which covers their cost for the dinner and the annual cost of maintaining eight four-year scholarships. The amount of the stipend has been from an initial $2000 per year to the current $3000 per year. The program was expanded to cover St. Paul High Schools as well, and by 2008 some 24 scholarships had been awarded to seniors at 12 different high schools. For the past six years Dunkers have made additional cash awards to the schools to fund programs in need of one-time monies.
In the 14 years it existed the McGrew Scholarship was awarded to 28 students, many of whom still attend the annual Dunkers Fund dinner.
Near the end of the 14 years, Dave Mona had a breakfast with the athletic directors of both the Minneapolis and St. Paul High Schools.
They outlined a critical shortage of funds and long list of needs at all the schools in both Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Mona, with the strong backing of fellow Dunker Dave Stead, head of the Minnesota State High School League, suggested that the McGrew Scholarship program be ended in favor of the current Dunkers Fund program which makes it so much easier for Dunker members to be involved.
The change received unanimous approval from the McGrew committee.
The "Dunkers Fund" is the program that started in 1997 to provide these scholarships to a few deserving students. It transitioned in 2011 to a program that has now provided $947,238 in financial assistance to the 14 Twin Cities high schools to help them purchase much needed athletic uniforms and equipment. For more information on the program that now helps Twin Cities high schools, visit the Dunkers Fund page on this site.
The history on the McGrew Scholarships was written by Dave Mona as the SCHOLARSHIPS chapter of a book he researched and wrote in 2008. Dave St. Peter raised the money to publish the book, Dave Shama edited it, Deb Hopp and Brian Anderson proofread and edited, and Sandy Pagel-Clemens culled and assembled the data from Dunkers records.
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