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Oluwakemi Olokunboyo of Dover received a McNabb scholarship to study nursing at Great Bay Community College [Photo by Cheryl Senter]

Oluwakemi Olokunboyo of Dover received a McNabb scholarship to study nursing at Great Bay Community College [Photo by Cheryl Senter]

A scholarship for neighbors by neighbors

Diana and Mark McNabb started a scholarship fund. Jacob Naimark pitched in. New Hampshire students benefit.

Mark and Diana McNabb both studied at state universities to be mechanical engineers. When Diana was at Penn State, she was one of a tiny cohort of women navigating the male-dominated halls of engineering in academia. Education set both Diana and Mark up for success. Diana got her master’s and went into environmental engineering, Mark went into building and real estate development.

In the years since the McNabbs have been out of school, they have watched as the price tag of a college degree skyrocketed to the point where it put the American Dream — like theirs — out of reach for too many people.

The Mark and Diana McNabb Scholarship Fund they opened at the Charitable Foundation is intended to help put that dream back into reach — particularly for women.



Mark McNabb and his wife, Diana, started a scholarship at the Foundation


“It is close to my heart to encourage women to pursue science, math and engineering,” Diana said. “Back in the day,” Mark added, “It was possible for people to put themselves through school. Now, it’s not as possible.”

The McNabbs’ scholarship fund specifically helps women and under-represented populations with financial need to go to community college or get training in a trade. Preference goes to people studying in STEM fields.

“It feels like more of a difference can be made at a community college and a trade-school level,” Mark said. “It doesn’t take a lot of dollars to make a difference.”

Community colleges are training grounds for many STEM careers — including in health care and engineering. And Mark points to the abundance of good jobs available in engineering and the trades — for which community college can be a jumping-off point.

New Hampshire’s community college and university systems have some
“2 + 2” agreements that allow students who earned an associate degree at a community college to then complete their bachelor’s by attending two additional years of university.

Oluwakemi Olokunboyo of Dover recently received one of the McNabb scholarships, to study nursing at Great Bay Community College. “Your support has alleviated a great burden,” she wrote recently, “and has provided me with the resources needed to bring alive my dream.”

The McNabbs were first introduced to the Charitable Foundation in the late 90s, having been encouraged by Seacoast businessman and philanthropist Joe Sawtelle to contribute to help New Hampshire students cover college costs. They did so, and later opened a donor-advised fund at the Foundation, from which grants have been made to an array of nonprofits. That fund helped them become more strategic about their giving — and to lay the groundwork for their daughters to become part of the process.

They established their own scholarship fund at the Foundation in 2022. A half-dozen students have already received scholarships from the fund. “I think it is important to lead and to normalize” the idea of giving back, Mark said.

Without even realizing it, they had created an avenue for others to do just that. After the McNabbs’ scholarship was established, a Portsmouth native and Columbia University graduate sat down in his apartment in New York City and googled “New Hampshire + scholarships.” Jacob Naimark is a young paralegal who works for a nonprofit that offers free legal assistance to immigrant youth. He plans to go to law school.



Jacob Naimark contributed to the McNabb Scholarship to help others


“I have a modest income, but I like to donate a small amount of money each month, so I build it into my lifestyle — and don’t wait until end-of-year and see if any is left over,” Jacob said. “I started thinking about how much my community in New Hampshire had given to me and how it had set me up for success, and I thought about donating to a scholarship fund for a New Hampshire student.”

His google search turned up the Charitable Foundation’s student aid program. Starting a new scholarship fund was not within his means — but contributing to an existing one was.

A phone call to Foundation staff helped him select the McNabbs’ scholarship fund to contribute to. He has made multiple contributions to support the students selected for the McNabb scholarship.

The McNabbs were thrilled to learn that another generous person had jumped in to join the effort to help New Hampshire students achieve their goals. “It’s positive and good energy,” Mark said.

At a time when the competing challenges facing communities can feel overwhelming, Diana said, she comes back to this question — and response.
“What can I do? I can give to help.”



Contribute to an existing fund

The New Hampshire Charitable Foundation manages more than two thousand philanthropic funds created by generous people. Those funds are dedicated to a wide variety of purposes — from helping students pay for college to mitigating climate change to feeding struggling families to advancing justice and equity to supporting local journalism.

But creating a new fund is not the only way to give through the Foundation. Generous people can also contribute to existing funds to support a wide variety of charitable purposes by navigating to the Foundation’s homepage, nhcf.org, clicking “give” and following the prompts.

For more information, please contact the Foundation’s donor services team at 1-800-464-6641, ext. 3.