ALS scholarship program to help students who have lost parents

ALS Northwest, Oregon Treasury aim to relieve stress on families

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by Mary Chapman |

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The nonprofit organization ALS Northwest has partnered with the Oregon State Treasury to establish a college scholarship program through the state-administered Oregon College Savings Plan for students who have lost parents or guardians to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

ALS Northwest will administer the Elinore Nudelman ALS College Savings Program, which was established to recognize the “profound” impact a parent’s death can have on a family, the organization said. Last year, about 7% of ALS families receiving assistance from ALS Northwest had at least one child under 18.

“Education is a steppingstone to a better life, and this pioneering effort ensures that children who lose a parent or guardian to ALS don’t also lose the ability to benefit from career training or college,” State Treasurer Tobias Read, whose late father had ALS, said in an Oregon College Savings Plan press release.

Cassy Adams, care services director for ALS Northwest, said it is common for families who have lost a parent to struggle to save for their children’s education. “Through the gift of education, we aim to empower the next generation with hope, opportunity, and the necessary tools for success,” she said.

The public is invited to make tax-deductible donations to the program, which officially opened in April. Four students are receiving financial assistance, and several more recipients are in the pipeline.

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‘A huge relief’ for recipient’s family

The first recipient is Izzy Canepa, 12, of Springfield, Oregon, whose father died from ALS complications last December.

“We are deeply grateful for the Elinore Nudelman ALS College Savings Program, which has been a huge relief in planning for Izzy’s education,” said Christine Acuna, Izzy’s mother. “We are thankful to be able to secure her future with the help of ALS Northwest and believe this program will support many families to come.”

Beneficiaries of the program receive a funded 529 college savings plan, an investment plan in which contributions are invested and grow over time, tax free. Withdrawals are not taxed when used for eligible educational costs.

The program is open to children 17 and younger who have lost a parent or guardian to ALS. Both the recipient and the deceased parent or guardian must have lived in Oregon or one of the southwest Washington counties of Cowlitz, Clark, Klickitat, Pacific, Skamania, and Wahkiakum. The parent or guardian must also have been a registered member of ALS Northwest, formerly known as the ALS Association Oregon and SW WA Chapter.

The scholarship program is named after a longtime Portland State University booster and benefactor who died in 2005 from ALS complications. “This program ensure her legacy of compassion and generosity continues to impact lives,” said Adams.

More information about the program is available by emailing [email protected] or calling 503-512-5141.