Sharon Parks Award and the Beck Scholarship

MLPP Board of Directors Award

The League Board of Directors established the Sharon Parks Award in 2010 in honor of  the long tenure and leadership of Sharon Parks, who worked at the League from 1977 to 2010, including two years as president and CEO.

Recipients of the Sharon Parks Award for Leadership/Advocacy/Research to Advance the Well-Being of Michigan’s Vulnerable Residents:

Jane Zehnder-Merrell, May 28, 2015
Student Advocacy Center
, Oct. 30, 2014
Center for Civil Justice, Oct. 10, 2012
Sharon Parks, Dec. 3, 2010

Beck Scholarship

MauryMaurice P. Beck, a lifelong advocate for human services, was well known for his leadership of the Michigan League for Public Policy (then called the Michigan League for Human Services), and his ever-present bow tie.

After service in the armed forces during World War II, he earned his master of social work degree at the University of Pittsburg, specializing in community organizations. After coming to Michigan in 1949, he worked within the United Way system and eventually became the executive director of the League in 1960. An able advocate, he led the League in its work advocating policy decisions that would help Michigan’s less fortunate and the organizations that were serving them. After retiring in 1985, he continued to be active as a volunteer for several nonprofit and community organizations.

After his death in March 2002, two organizations that he helped establish, the 501 Alliance and the Human Services Association Workers Compensation Fund, donated $10,000 each to create the Beck Scholarship. This scholarship is in honor of Mr. Beck and his long years of service to the nonprofit sector and Michigan’s disadvantaged populations. The Michigan League for Public Policy is the fiduciary for this fund.

The scholarship is available to one Master of Social Work (MSW) student each year who plans to use his or her social work degree to improve the lives of low-income people in Michigan. The amount of the scholarship depends on the interest earned on the principal. The scholarship awarded for the 2015-2016 school year will be $800 – $1,000 based on available funds.

Application Requirements

There is no special form. The requirements to apply for the Beck Scholarship are as follows:

  • The scholarship is available to individuals who have confirmed acceptance into a Master of Social Work (MSW) program at a Michigan college or university and plan to start in July or September of the following school year. It is also available to students already in an MSW program who have at least one more school year of study.
  • The applicant’s course of study must have a concentration in public policy, community organization, or a related area.
  • The applicant must submit an introductory paragraph which includes name, address, phone number, email address, college or university, field of concentration, year of study and anticipated graduation date.
  • The applicant must also submit an essay with a 750 word maximum on how he or she plans to use the MSW degree to work for public policy that improves the lives of low-income people in Michigan.

Donations to the Beck Scholarship

Donations can be sent to:

c/o Gilda Jacobs
Michigan League for Public Policy
1223 Turner Street, Suite G-1
Lansing MI 48906

Credit card donations can also be made by calling the League office at 1-517-487-5436.

Most Recent Scholarship Winner

Carly Brin

The winner of the 2014 Beck Scholarship is Carly Brin, who is beginning a Master of Social Work degree this fall at Wayne State University with a concentration in community development and advocacy.

Carly has worked for the Service Employees International Union, where she helped implement a leadership development program for members. She is concerned that cuts to social services and severely low staffing levels have made it difficult for families to get the social services they need for their children and elderly family members. She wants to enter the social work field to help such families access the programs they need, and to work to change the policies that act as barriers. While in her MSW program, she also looks forward to working on a project called the Green and Healthy Homes Initiative. which works with low-income families and property owners to address lead, asbestos, mold and other environmental health hazards in their homes.

 Past Scholarship Winners

The 2013-2014 school year: Natalia Harris.
The 2012-2013 school year: Valerie James.
The 2011-2012 school year: Taylor Long.
The 2010-2011 school year: Audrey Dowell.
The 2008-2009 school year: Laura Schmidt.
The 2007-2008 school year: Leah DuBuc.
The 2005-2006 school year: Melinda Haus.