The history of the foundation began with Chi Phi, the Denver graduate chapter of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc., who initiated a scholarship program in 1965. The original program format consisted of making contributions to one or more awardees to assist in defraying the cost of the initial year of college. The first program was underwritten entirely by contributions from the chapter members. A total of 15 students were given scholarships between 1965 and 1981. Total amount awarded was $13,400.
The chapter reorganized its program in 1981 and it was incorporated in the state of Colorado as the “Clarence F. Holmes Memorial Scholarship Fund Corporation”. Dr. Holmes, after whom the scholarship fund is named, was a well-known Dentist and civic leader in the Denver community as well as a charter member of Chi Phi chapter of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. He served as the 6th Grand Basileus (National President) of the fraternity from 1917 to 1918. In 1914 Dr. Holmes was a co-founder of the Colorado Chapter of the NAACP. He was also a co-founder of the Interracial Cosmopolitan Club for Human Relations. He received many awards including the Brotherhood Award from the National Conference of Christians and Jews.
The first $4,000 four-year scholarship was awarded in September 1982. The scholarship was paid in increments of $500 each semester, $1,000 yearly. It was renewable for each subsequent year based on maintaining a full time student status and the required grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. The program was structured so that following graduation of the first recipient in May; a new student would be selected for entrance in September. This selection process of a new recipient each September would continue until a minimum of four students were being assisted concurrently. This is the format of the core program today with the annual amount increased to $1,500 per year, and also on an annual basis the board will award several one year scholarships to deserving high school graduates who have been accepted into a college program. The award of $4,000 or more has been made each year since 1982.
The criteria for selection as a scholarship recipient are Academic Promise, Financial Need, Extra Curricular Activities, Well Rounded Personality, and Strength of Character. Eligibility is restricted to Denver metropolitan high school seniors who are planning to enter college as freshmen for full-time study.
Members of Chi Phi Chapter provide all administrative duties for the corporation on a voluntary basis. Less than 5% of the Fund’s annual revenue is used for administrative expenses. Expenses consist mostly of stationery and supplies. Members of the corporations’ Board of Directors, likewise, serve on a voluntary basis and act independently from Chi Phi Chapter.
In 1994 the Clarence F. Holmes Memorial Scholarship Fund was granted 501(c)(3) Tax Exempt status by the Internal Revenue Service. Therefore donations to the corporation may be tax exempt but should be confirmed with a tax accountant or advisor. Inquiries regarding the scholarship program may be directed to the corporation at P.O. Box 371501, Denver, Co. 80237.