What is now the Columbia High School Scholarship Fund began in 1923 when the members of the Columbia High School Home and School Association initiated the "Columbia Student Aid Fund" to help Columbia graduates who needed financial assistance with their post- high school education.
The organization derived funds from fund-raising activities and from individuals and groups within the community. The Unity Club of Maplewood and the Village Club of South Orange were two civic associations whose support goes back to the very early days. There were memorial funds established as well: The Henry Foster Fund, The Tedlow Memorial, The Redpath Memorial Scholarships - trusts established with the intent that the interest from the invested principle be released to eligible students each year.
The Ida Grace Memorial Scholarship, established in 1953 was to have a far reaching effect on the Scholarship Fund, now established as the Columbia High School Scholarship Fund. Ida Grace was head of the English Department at Columbia; she returned to school in the fall of 1953 seriously ill. She died in December of that year, and her sister, Gladys P. Alexander, contributed $2000 to the Scholarship Fund in Ida's memory with the interest from the contribution to be given each year to a female graduate to help her with her education. Each December Miss Alexander forwarded a contribution to augment the interest from the initial gift in order to provide what she considered to be "meaningful" financial assistance. In the early 1970's she learned that the Fund had grown substantially, thanks to the care exhibited in the oversight of her contribution. She was delighted and asked that some of the augmented principal be released to help more than one student.
Miss Gladys Alexander died in the late 1970's and left her residual estate to the Scholarship Fund, stipulating, only ,that the principal remain intact and the interest be given annually to graduates of Columbia High School who need help with their education. This bequest, which exceeded $100,000, clarified that the growing nature of the operation of the Fund needed to be formalized. Accordingly, the Scholarship Fund was legally incorporated, with a Board of Directors comprised of residents of South Orange and Maplewood. At this time, the permanent memorial funds were incorporated into principal.