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Rotary District 6920
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Southeastern Georgia, USA


Gilbert R. Tharp Global Grant Scholarship

The late Rotarian Gilbert R. Tharp, a former member of the Rotary Club of St. Simons, established an endowment with the Rotary Foundation. The earnings from the endowment will enable a student from Rotary District 6920 to study abroad. To be eligible the student must already have a Bachelor's Degree. The individual must meet all of the eligibility related to the new Global Grants for scholarships, including pursuing a career in one or more of the Areas of Focus and graduate level studies or research lasting one to four years. Please review the Global Grant Scholarships supplement to The Rotary Foundation's Grants Management Manual located on the district website Grants page

Global grant scholars plan to pursue a career in an area of focus, and their graduate-level educational goals should support this career interest. Pursuing a career in an area of focus means the scholar has a long-term commitment to measurable, sustainable change. Be sure that a candidate's previous work or volunteer experience, academic program, and career plans are strongly aligned with one of the six areas of focus.

Overview of Global Grant Scholarships
Global Grant Scholarship Supplement en.pdf
Areas of Focus-Policy Statements (pdf)

Application Form
Grant Scholar Candidate Application Template en.pdf


2017-18 Scholarship Award


The Gil Tharp Global Grant Scholarship

Pictured is Caleb Gordon -- Our current Gil Tharp Scholar Recipient
Notes from Hamsa Thorta

  • Gil Tharp was a member of the St. Simons Rotary Club until his passing in 1994. He was a member when I joined the Club in 1978. If I remember correctly, he was a member of our Club from the late '60s. He was a "song leader" until his health deteriorated. He was confined to home care. During Gil's home health care, PDG Pat Donahoo assisted Gil in managing his finances and in the preparation of Gil's will naming the Rotary Foundation Endowment Fund as one of the two beneficiaries. The second beneficiary was the St. Simons Rotary Scholarship Fund.
  • Gil was a photographer on Sea Island. Gil Tharp made the first official portrait of the Thota family in the early 80s. Our family considers him a friend and cherishes his memories. He was a kind man with a smile worth million dollars.
  • He was one of the founding members of the Jekyll Island Big Band and played in it until he couldn't.
  • Upon Gil's death, the Gil Tharp Endowed Global Grant Scholarship began with an initial gift value of $151,068.48 (on Sept. 30, 1994).
  • The current market value of the Gilbert R Tharp Endowment Scholarship is $ 295,370.44 (on Dec. 31, 2021).
  • During my service as the District Governor in 2017-18, our district awarded Gil Tharp Scholarship to James Ferencsik from Savannah. His mom was a member of the Savannah East Rotary Club. James's scholarship amount was $30,000. The scholarship enabled James to obtain a Master of Science degree in International Security at Sciences Po, Paris, France. Currently, James works for the National Security Agency in the Washington DC area.
  • Cadet Caleb Gordon is from West Point Military Academy. He is born in Augusta, Georgia and his parents still live in the Augusta area. Caleb is the current recipient of the Gil Tharp Scholarship. The scholarship amount is $30,000. The scholarship is enabling Caleb to obtain a Masters degree in Spirituality & Religion at the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Amsterdam International Rotary Club serves as his host Rotary Club. Post-graduation, Caleb plans to apply the skills and knowledge obtained from his studies as the Chaplain of the US Army.

I tell Rotarians throughout our district that Gil Tharp's legacy lives on and I am blessed to see his wishes come true-to provide international education opportunities for children born in the 61 Rotary communities in South and South Central Georgia.

Cadet John "Caleb" Gordon from Augusta, Georgia, and a graduate of West Point Military Academy, has been awarded a Gil Thorp Scholarship--  to pursue a Masters Degree in Spirituality & Religion at the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. (This involved a special arrangement with the U.S. Army to allow for this experience BEFORE Caleb begins his active military service to our Nation).

The Application,  submitted by the Rotary Club of Amsterdam-International and District 6920, has been approved by The Rotary Foundation.
The award is in the amount of US$ 30,000.00.  The generous gift of the Gilbert R. Tharp Endowed Scholarship is providing $30,0000 for this global grant.
The Gil Tharp Scholarship was created by the ST SIMONS ISLAND Rotary Club and has benefited countless students since its inception.

Please Join us in congratulating Caleb on this amazing accomplishment and exciting opportunity.


West Point grad to study abroad on Rotarian Scholarship

Second Lt. John 'Caleb' Gordon speaks to the St. Simons Island Rotary Club

Terry Dickson/The Brunswick News   June 7, 2022

Many graduates of West Point speak of the discipline and sense of honor acquired at the revered military academy in upstate New York, but John Caleb Gordon says he found God there.

"I didn't have much of a faith or spiritual connection until I got to West Point," Gordon said Tuesday, speaking to the St. Simons Rotary Club. "I wasn't behaving like the man I wanted to be."

But through his association with the Officers' Christian Fellowship, Gordon gained spiritual calling along with his rank of second lieutenant.

He had his "come to Jesus moment" at West Point, he said.

"The fellowship there really sealed my faith," he said. "I had some incredible mentors"

And with a connection a little closer to home, the Augusta native will now travel abroad to pursue higher learning on the power of faith in all its many forms. Thanks in part to the Gil Tharp Rotary Foundation scholarship, Gordon will pursue a master's degree in Spirituality and Religion at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

The $30,000 scholarship is named for the late St. Simons Rotarian, an acclaimed local photographer in the 1970s and '80s. Tharp also was a founding member of the Jekyll Island Big Band.
Gordon hopes the broad-based faith studies will help him to minister to military service members of all faiths as an Army chaplain in the future. Understanding of the role faith plays in people's lives holds significant meaning in the U.S. military's missions around the world, Gordon said.

He noted the Eastern Orthodoxy traditions intertwined within the war currently raging in Ukraine, as well as the strong Islamic traditions so prevalent in the Middle Eastern countries where the U.S. fought.

He thanked the local Rotarians for the scholarship, which allows him to attend one of the most prominent institutes for theological and spiritual studies.

"The program at University of Amsterdam is world renowned," Gordon said. "It's an incredible program. I'm very honored and happy to have gotten this opportunity. And I thank you very much."