A principal purpose of the Straus Historical Society, a tax-exempt organization, is the fostering of educational activities directed to public service.
The Straus family has a long history of public service and philanthropy, originating from Lazarus and Sara Straus, their ancestors and their descendants.
Lazarus Straus emigrated from Germany to the United States in 1852. He settled in Georgia, became an itinerant merchant and later opened a successful dry goods business in Talbot County. However, in 1862, when the county issued a presentment accusing Jews of usury, Lazarus and his family relocated to Columbus, Georgia before finally settling in New York. There, the Strauses opened a china and crockery business, L. Straus & Son, and eventually became partners in R. H. Macy & Company.
The Society's activities are shaped by the Straus Family’s involvement in government, commerce, and philanthropy. Beginning in the 19th Century and continuing into the 20th, members of the family have served in governmental positions at the federal and local levels. For example, family members have served in the House of Representatives, as Ambassadors, and as Presidential Cabinet Members. By virtue of their positions, as well as a consequence of their acting as advisors and confidants to a number of American Presidents, family members have been actively involved in the formulation of American public policy for well over 100 years.
Furthermore, in the context of American finance and commerce, family members were the owners of Macy's for nearly 100 years, and they have participated widely in the commercial development of the City of New York and America in general. Family members have also been in a position to assist others less fortunate throughout this period of time. Members of the family have served on the boards of innumerable philanthropic organizations. As a consequence of the family's involvement in this broad spectrum of American life, the Straus family exemplifies and brings to life the true American story and its spirit. It is in this spirit that we wish to encourage young people to engage in public service in these challenging times.
Goal of the Scholarship Program
The goal for our scholarship program is to help support the continuing education of a student or students whose professional goal is in the field of public service.
We define public service as employment in government, the uniform services, national emergency and disaster response, public interest in non-governmental research and/or educational and nonprofit organizations, such as those whose primary purposes are to help needy or disadvantaged persons or to protect the environment.
We currently have four $5,000 scholarships, which we plan to award in 2021 to qualified college graduates who have accepted admission to, or are currently enrolled in, a graduate program at American University, Tufts University, or Columbia University that emphasizes preparing graduate students for a career in public service. The Award is intended to be used for tuition for the 2021-2022 school year, which starts in Fall 2021. Applicants must be U.S. citizens. The award will be based on academic achievement as well as an essay of 500-1000 words that describes a social problem the applicant considers important and offers ideas on steps that might be taken to meet that problem. The award money from the Straus Historical Society will be sent directly to the graduate school of the scholarship recipient's choice. Applicants may be contacted for additional information.
The Scholarship Program is administered through a Straus Historical Society committee that includes a minimum of three board members.
The essays will be judged by an Award Committee of outside educators with no family relationship to the Strauses or to SHS board members.
The funds for the Scholarship Program will come from contributions from our annual fundraising program.
The 2020 Straus Scholarships were awarded to Corey Best, Caitlin Flynn and Kristy Kwon. The Award Committee also named Gabrielle Robertson, Benjamin Drolet, Crystal Avila, Garrett Berghoff, Ihechiluru Esuruonye and Matthew Tyler Dean, Honorary Straus Scholars for 2020.Click Here to learn more about this years winners.
The application period begins on November 1, 2020 and is due anytime before January 31, 2021. Applications will be evaluated by the Award Committee during February and March, and the Award will be announced in April 2021.