The Chamber Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization focused on assisting in the betterment of the region through charitable activities. Funds raised by the Foundation are utilized primarily for education/workforce development initiatives and charitable activities in North Central Massachusetts, including scholarships to eligible applicants pursuing education and grants to support economic and community development projects.
Every year, the Chamber Foundation distributes 26 scholarships to local high-achieving high school students. Since it’s inception, the Chamber Foundation has awarded over $1,200,000 in scholarships to over 680 students. Many of these awards are made possible through contributions from members of the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce. Scholarships endowed through the Foundation are often named in honor of prominent members of the North Central Massachusetts business community. The following scholarships are named in honor of individuals whose philanthropy and commitment to community have helped shape North Central Massachusetts.
Named Endowed Scholarships
Ronald Ansin Scholarship
Born in Worcester, Massachusetts, Ronald M. Ansin has had a great influence on various communities in Massachusetts. Devoting the majority of his life to community organizations and the betterment of society, Ansin has been a Trustee of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, Community Foundation of North Central Massachusetts, and a member of the United Way of America’s National Alexis de Tocqueville Leadership Council.
For his exceptional work, Ansin has been honored on numerous occasions with such awards as the Founders Award by Applewild Private School. In addition to his commitment to improving communities, Ansin established a foundation that has made generous donations to such groups as the Boys & Girls Club. The Chamber Foundation has named this scholarship in honor of Mr. Ansin for his unmatched philanthropy in the North Central area.
Benjamin Asher Scholarship
Most commonly associated with his successful business, Asher Pants Company, Benjamin Asher was a key figure in the city of Fitchburg. Asher was the leading maker in pant wear, and his factory still resides in Fitchburg. Asher Pants Company produced an abundance of top-notch attire for any occasion. In 1926, Asher Pants Company made one style, selling its pants for $3 to other companies to distribute. By 1946, the company stopped doing contact work and by 1981 expanded to manufacturing over 500 styles of men’s pants, sport coats and ladies’ wear.
While his organization was essential, Asher too was an intelligent businessman who believed in acquiring the best, making sure he had the most educated workforce. Benjamin’s work ethic glistened through his wares, and to this day will always be remembered for his remarkable work in good quality fashion.
Edward C.J. Healey Scholarship
Growing up in Fitchburg, Edward C.J. Healey was a proud and dedicated citizen to his community. Healey graduated from St. Bernard’s High School, spending the majority of his childhood working in his family’s business, Grennar Hardware, on Main Street. It was clear from his youth that Healey was a born salesman. Realizing that hardware was not his calling, Healy joined the realty business, working for Ralph-Foster in the 1950’s. Soon after Healey would begin managing within the Ralph-Foster organization and eventually bought the company in 1977. With this gracious buy the company would change names, to Foster-Healey.
Beyond his niche for sales, Healey served as Chairman of the Fitchburg Rotary Club and expressed his passionate feeling for the city of Fitchburg which influenced his various collections of Fitchburg memorabilia. Edward C.J. Healey was a proud father and promoter of the area in which he lived. He was elated to be able to send his children off to college to open up a bright future for themselves. The winner of this scholarship award has accomplished great feats and shows their true aspirations of being successful in all their future endeavors.
Roderick W. & Donna M. Lewin Scholarship
Since his arrival into Ashburnham, in 1960, Roderick Lewin has made it his mission to better society. For a good amount of time he has made his mark in the Fitchburg community serving as Vice President of the Fitchburg Arts Museum. His remarkable work in oral and facial surgeries has spanned more than 40 years, providing his services to facilities such as the Community Healthcare for Fitchburg, Tufts Dental School, and the University of Massachusetts for Medical. Lewin’s profound knowledge of dentistry has given him the opportunity to serve as secretary on the Board of Registration in Dentistry. His commitment to society has shown through, in his exertions with the underprivileged citizens of Honduras. Lewin’s dedication in serving as Director of the Facial Reconstruction team and involvement with the building of an upcoming burn center in Honduras has done wonders.
Salny Family Scholarship
As a former city solicitor and prominent local attorney, Phil Salny was a staple in Fitchburg. After graduating from Boston University Law School in 1931, and spending 30 years as a practicing attorney, Salny served as Fitchburg’s city solicitor for 12 years. In addition to his private practice, Salny served as president of the Northern Worcester County Bar Association and help to arrange the financing for the new Fitchburg District Court.
Salny fought for his country in World War II, serving as a Master Sergeant in the Army Air Force. Later in life, Salny served as president to the Jewish War Veterans and Fitchburg-Leominster Probus Clubs.
Barbara Silva Scholarship
In her career as a successful business woman, Barbara Silva established a name for herself beyond her job title. Silva did a tremendous amount for various regions within the state, including the development of a variety of programs and foundations. The most prominent was establishing the Chamber Scholarship Program over 21 years ago. Ms. Silva’s commitment to regional education was demonstrated as she worked towards being the metaphoric crutch for students who excel in academics and seek help in paying for college. Her devotion to assisting youth to further their education has shined through as each year more students are elected to receive this honor.
The Chamber Foundation has named this scholarship in honor of Ms. Silva for her years of dedication, commitment and service in the community.
Ruth Lee Scholarship
At the age of 19, Ruth Desgroseilliers began her own business selling woman’s clothing from the back of her station wagon to friends and family in the Leominster area. Ruth was known for her self-determination, strong-will, along with possessing a gifted talent for identifying fashion trends. These attributes helped her become a leading pioneer of woman-owned businesses, operating successfully for 54 years. Her store on Park Street in downtown Leominster was an icon of quality and fashionable women’s clothing, which she would select on her frequent buying trips to New York and Paris. In addition to her business success, Ruth was always improving herself and, at the age of 57, she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Business (as a full-time student) from Fitchburg State – all while managing 3 stores (Leominster, West Dennis and Osterville). She was the family matriarch whose strongest priority was to ensure that her nieces and nephews had access to a college education. Learning, challenging and expanding oneself was her mantra – none of which could be completed without hard work. These are the values that Ruth lived by and are what inspired her to establish a scholarship foundation.
David L. McKeehan Scholarship
David L. McKeehan served as President & CEO of the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce from 1984 until his retirement in 2015. McKeehan led the merger of the Fitchburg and Leominster Chambers of Commerce, along with several smaller business groups, to form the North Central Massachusetts Chamber in 1984. Over the course of his tenure, he procured over $4.5 million in private sector funding and over $1 million in government grants for economic development programming in the region. He was instrumental in the creation as well as saving of many jobs within North Central Massachusetts during his years at the Chamber. For his service, McKeehan has been honored by the New England Association of Chamber of Commerce Executive, Mt. Wachusett Community College, Fitchburg State University and many other organizations.
The Chamber Foundation has named this scholarship in honor of Mr. David McKeehan’s commitment to the advancement of North Central Massachusetts and for his many years of dedicated service to the Chamber. Preference for this scholarship is given to a child or grandchild of a current Chamber member or an employee of a current Chamber member.