2020-2021 OCWS Scholarship Drive—Time to Wine-Up

Scholarships are important to the core of the OCWS, especially to the dedicated students we support. Due to COVID-19 and the cancellation of scholarship fundraising sources, the scholarship account has only 10% of what we funded last year at this time. We have lost the top three and more of five sources that account for Undesignated (shared) and Designated (specific) Scholarship funds. We need the help of our generous OCWS members to Wine-Up Scholarships this fall. 

Every new OCWS membership and renewal provides $12.50 into our Scholarship Fund. This past year, the BOD twice suspended expiring memberships, for a total of 8 months of no incoming undesignated funds.

Judges’ donations from our Commercial Wine Competition are combined and rotated in an annual order to one of our seven colleges and universities. There was no designated 2020 Judges’ donation. The Courtyard at the OC Fair generates funds in two areas. Donations awarded from the onsite Featured Winery Program and winemakers serving at the Express Bar are divided between colleges that officially enter our competition. There was no 2020 designation.

The largest incoming annual source of almost half of the total OCWS scholarship funds every year are the tips/gratuity donations our fabulous volunteers generate over The Courtyard counter during the OC Fair. There are no undesignated sources this year from The Courtyard either.

Ways to Wine-Up. For this 2020 tax year, the CARES Act allows tax benefits in the form of a universal deduction up to $300 toward 501(c)(3) organizations for those that do not itemize their deductions. As an alternative, you can make contributions directly from your IRA or 401(K) and avoid additional income on your individual return. Always check with your tax professional as how it applies to you.

On our OCWS website, click on Scholarship Program and Donations. You may designate your contribution toward a specific college. An undesignated option is to divide your contribution to be equally distributed between seven colleges. After you make your donation, you will be able to print your receipt for your tax records. The Cunningham Endowment is specifically designated to Sonoma State University and you must contribute separately to that account. With unprecedented disappointments this year, let’s show that the OCWS can Wine-Up as a scholarship organization with benefits toward grateful recipients for 2021. 

– Leslie Hodowanec, Director & Scholarship Chair