diligent achievers with needs

Wanda Thomas (Right), Founder & Board President pictured with Dawn Head (Left), Co-Founder & President Trainee

Diligent Achievers With Needs (D.A.W.N.) was first inspired in the 2005-06 school year by co-founder Dawn Head. Head, an enthusiastic and extremely diligent student was part of the first graduating class of John Hay Early College High School. Wanda Thomas, board president, founder and Head’s mother took an active role in assisting her children to access scholarship funds as they prepared to embark on their college careers. As Thomas began working with guidance counselors and other high school students to research existing scholarship opportunities, she quickly realized that many of their parents were of modest means and had difficulty accessing scholarship funding. 


Despite how uninformed some of the parents were regarding scholarship opportunities, Thomas saw how resourceful the students were and it moved her deeply. She wanted to serve as a beacon of hope for these students in a way that would make a meaningful impact in their lives. Thomas decided that while helping them access scholarships would indeed be helpful, providing them with actual funding and life experience would be even better. 


At the close of 2005, Thomas began her initiative of awarding students a $500 scholarship per year. In 2006, having the desire to expand the program to  include a paid internship, Thomas presented her proposal to Jeff Markle, president of Human Arc. Fascinated with Thomas’ vision, Markel agreed to become a sponsor by implementing paid internships at Human Arc for a total of three years per recipient and increasing the original scholarship amount. The sponsorship increased to $4,000 with $1,000 awarded per year and a paid summer internship at $12 per hour. With the commitment of Jeff Markle and Human Arc, the D.A.W.N. scholarship program grew to the next level. 


The D.A.W.N. scholarship program established its first partnership with John Hay Early College High School; it later expanded to include the School of Science & Medicine and Architecture & Design.. To generate interest in the scholarship program, Thomas and Head administered presentations to graduating seniors of John Hay at the beginning of their spring semester. They outlined the history of D.A.W.N. application procedures, and the program qualifications. Interested applicants were required to write an essay detailing the importance of receiving the scholarship and how they could be an asset at Human Arc. After essays had been submitted, Thomas and Head would select three to five finalists to be invited to Human Arc for a meet and greet and an interview with the CEO of the company. After the interview, one applicant is selected and named the D.A.W.N. recipient and they celebrate at a congratulatory lunch. 

Wanda Thomas, Founder; Jeff Markle, CEO of Human Arc; Dawn Head, Co-Founder

Diligent Achievers With Needs 10 Year Anniversary

D.A.W.N. 2016 Finalists

Diligent Achievers With Needs 10 Year Anniversary