Brian Newberry Memorial Scholarship Fund
Making Education Accessible for Austin Youth
IN HONOR OF A HUSBAND AND FATHER WHO LOVED AUSTIN HIGH SCHOOL
Brian Newberry was proud to be a graduate of Austin High School, class of 1963. He was in the marching band as a student, and throughout his adult life continued to be an avid supporter of AHS academics and athletics, as well as other extracurricular activities. Brian’s siblings and all four of his children attended AHS as well.
After Brian passed away in 2006, Gail Newberry knew she wanted to do something to both honor his memory as well as his support of education and the school he loved so much. Contributions poured in from friends, and the family decided that setting up scholarships with the money seemed the right thing to do.
“He was a big believer in the importance of extra-curricular activities and the friendships and sense of responsibility it created,” Mrs. Newberry says of her husband. “During the years his children were in high school, Brian was president of the booster clubs for the football, basketball and baseball organizations, and was on the selection committees for both the new football coach and the new principal.”
Brian thought that a good way to keep kids out of trouble was their involvement in activities and programs, whether that was football or drama, and helped to enrich their high school experience.
Mrs. Newberry knew she wanted to do something in her husband’s name, and several friends had made contributions through Austin Community Foundation. ACF also handled the memorial fund for a good friend of her son’s, after he was killed in a car accident.
“I learned, after Brian's death, that ACF was a great source for investing money to create community scholarships,” Mrs. Newberry says.
Working with ACF, the Brian Newberry Memorial Scholarship Fund was created and its first scholarship awarded in 2008. The goal was to find students who maybe weren’t the quarterback or star student, but someone who works hard and might not have a scholarship opportunity otherwise.
“We wanted to find a student each year who had that spirit of hard work and wanting to be involved, even if took a little extra effort.” Athletic coaches and teachers at Austin High became partners in the endeavor, making the scholarship opportunity known as well as recommending potential recipients to the fund. Students then make an application, which includes an essay portion.
“That requirement sort of culls out the ones who aren’t even interested in writing an essay about it,” Mrs. Newberry says. So far the fund has really focused on the AHS football team, since two of Brian’s sons had played football at the school. At the end of the season the fund directors, including Mrs. Newberry, get together with the coaches and a school counselor to go through the applications, which usually number eight to ten, to vote on that year’s recipient.
The scholarship is awarded at the football banquet, and so far the fund has awarded three scholarships. Mrs. Newberry appreciates that ACF handles the investments, providing her statements throughout the year, which enables the fund to continue long-term and her to concentrate on the scholarship selection process.
“I have a lot of trust in them,” she says of the ACF team.
“This makes me feel involved in the AHS community, and lets me help a student who needs it, in some small way. I am happy that our investments have enabled our family to award a $1,000 scholarship each year to someone need-based, who is college-bound and exemplifies the spirit of teamwork and enthusiasm that Brian brought to every thing he did,” Mrs. Newberry says.
“It’s definitely something Brian would be proud of.”