Time Nears to Donate to North Rockland School District Foundation for College-Bound Students

April 30 deadline looms

BY KATHY KAHN

Members of the Phillip Mathangani Foundation

Phillip Mathangani, whose parents immigrated from Kenya and settled in Rockland County, watched their son thrive in the North Rockland School District—in Phillip’s free time, he volunteered in his church and the community. The 2006 NRSD student graduated The University of Pennsylvania and went on to a career at UBS.

Mathangani passed away suddenly in 2012, leaving a grieving family and friends behind, determined his memory be kept alive. 15 of them started the Phillip Mathangani Foundation to raise funds for a scholarship for a NRSD Senior. That same year, the newly formed group was able to raise $500 for the new Foundation’s scholarship fund.

“Phillip was so well-liked and accomplished,” said Parag Shah, his friend and one of the co-founders of the organization. “He was so accomplished scholastically and in music, donating his time to making Pomona a great place to live through volunteer work.  He had many friends drawn by his kindness and his ability to give of himself.”

Today, the Foundation that raised its first scholarship with a flag football game in 2012, has grown. Its website, created and managed by one of the members, has raised more than $10,000 in scholarship funds for 14 NRSD seniors.  It is accepting donations until Sunday, April 30.

Essays from ten NRSD seniors are submitted in February, and the members of the Mathangani Foundation read through each one. They then choose the three each likes best. The three student writers, who remain nameless until the voting is over, are chosen based on which essays receive the most votes.

Lev Tatz, the Foundation’s web designer who works closely with Shah, posts the three essays on its website and lets Rockland residents see what students are focused on. “Anyone can read them and donate if they wish,” said Shah. “The response has been unbelievable.”

The three students chosen receive half the scholarship funds in May and the remainder in November. “The reason we do this is to be sure the money is spent on higher education,” said Shah. “We also do not share the names until the three selected are voted on, because we want the essays chosen on their merit, not on who wrote it.”

One hundred percent of the funds raised through Phillip Mathangani Foundation go to the students. “All of us graduated from different schools and moved around, so we conference via videochat from New York to California,” said Shah. “We e-mail each other frequently.  Our commitment to this Foundation is as strong now as it was when we first started, and it’s a privilege to help Rockland students with much-needed funds to go towards expenses of a college education.”

PMF hopes to expand its work to other schools so more students can earn a scholarship towards the college of their choice. “We hope to continue to experiment with funding of education in our communities and across the world, where the American dollar goes a long way,” said Tatz. “The primary hurdle for students is financial.” PMF hopes to create a program similar to “Go Fund Me” specifically aimed at helping high school seniors from coast to coast.

Fourteen students have received a scholarship from the Phillip Mathangani Foundation since its inception. To learn more about how to support children’s college dreams, visit www.phillipmathangani.org