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Introducing the Coast Guard Foundation Spousal Education Grants

The Coast Guard Foundation is proud to announce a new education grant program designed specifically to help spouses of enlisted personnel further their education. The Coast Guard Foundation Spouse Education Grant program covers expenses like books, school fees, transportation and child care costs.

Coast Guard Foundation Director Roy Vander Putten spear-headed the project. Roy is a passionate supporter of education opportunities for enlisted members, creating the Vander Putten Education Grants 10 years ago and has long wanted to help the spouses of our enlisted service personnel. Roy provided the initial funding for the program, which will be matched by a similar gift from Foundation Trustee Laurie Rietsema and the James L. Everitts Foundation.

The testimony of current grant recipients demonstrates why there is a need for supporting the education of Coast Guard spouses. One awardee is maintaining a 4.0 GPA as she works toward a bachelor's degree. She manages this while juggling the responsibilities of caring for two children and husband who is often called away on duty as a flight mechanic. In her application, she wrote:

"During our time in the Coast Guard, I have had to relocate and search for a new job time and time again. It is a great challenge to get a foot in the door without a degree. With high unemployment rates, the application process is much more competitive and the lack of a degree on my resume puts me at a great disadvantage to compete with other applicants. The experience I have gained during each class has provided me with the training and background to better serve my time as an employee, spouse and a teacher for my daughters."

Coast Guard Foundation Spouse Education Grants by the Numbers

The Coast Guard Foundation awarded $17,300 in grants to 77 spouses, two of whom are men, and 75 are women. They are currently residing in 22 different states. Some are taking long distance courses through certified universities online, others are attending colleges or technical schools. They range in age from 20-53. Some are parents, some are not. A common thread in their life is the love and support of their spouses and the United States Coast Guard and the desire to better themselves through education.

  • 29 are pursuing associates degrees
  • 21 are working towards bachelor's degrees
  • 9 are in school to earn masters degrees
  • 4 are studying for doctorate degrees
  • 1 is enrolled in a cosmetology program
  • 10 are participating in trade/technical school programs
  • 1 is back in school to earn her GED
  • 1 is working towards her high school diploma
  • 1 is studying to earn her teaching certification

Finding Meaning and Balance through Opportunity

"Finding the balance between the family, the job, the school and the military lifestyle is not always easy. However, it is possible to achieve it, working together and taking the positive from the challenges we confront...as a Coast Guard spouse, education is important because it provides me the opportunity to achieve professional growth, add support and influence to my family and develop thinking skills that can be used to contribute to any community where I may live." — Coast Guard spouse and mother of two, pursuing an associate's degree.

"I am proud to watch my wife advance in her job and have gotten satisfaction out of feeling like I am part of that mission... My education is important to me because it is an opportunity for my wife and I to have a better life. I have watched my wife use the Coast Guard's resources to pursue her degree and she inspired me to begin mine... Once we both have college degrees we will serve as role models for our children about the importance of education and will hopefully provide an example of hard work and dedication." — Coast Guard spouse and father of five, Navy veteran, pursuing a bachelor's degree.

About Coast Guard Foundation Spouse Grants

  • Grants are awarded in the amount of $250
  • Available to spouses of active duty enlisted personnel and reservists on active duty orders for at least one year in duration in pay grades E-3 to E-6
  • Grants intended to assist spouses pursuing a degree or certification from nationally or regionally accredited institutions.
  • Grants may be used for required educational items not funded through other sources.
  • Expenses may include books, school fees, transportation and child care costs.
  • Applications are submitted April 1-June 24, 2011
  • Applicants are required to submit some personal financial information and to write a 500-word essay on what type of difference education has made or will make in their lives and the lives of their family, as well as what it means to the applicant to be a Coast Guard spouse.
  • The Coast Guard Foundation plans to distribute up to $20,000 a year.

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