Students recognized for academic excellence
Students recognized for academic excellence
Posted on 10/30/2018

Started in 1995 as a way to honor African-American youth in Tacoma, the Elizabeth Wesley Merit Incentive Award has become a vital link between public education and higher education. The intent of the Elizabeth Wesley Youth Incentive Award Program is three-fold; to promote the achievements of African-American youth within the schools, to emphasize the importance of education to young people, and to bring awareness to the community of the amazing and deserving students who fill our hallways. Nine-six percent of the district’s students who receive the award complete a four-year college degree, which is 30% higher than the state average.

Community service and academic achievement are the cornerstones of the program named after Elizabeth Wesley, a pioneer in the African-American Community within Pierce County. Wesley believed that by receiving recognition, the African-American students of Pierce County will continue their educational pursuits and return home to Pierce County ready to assume a leadership role within the community These students have a unique opportunity to receive not only the recognition they deserve, but also some monetary assistance as they prepare for higher education. This help comes in the form of an incentive award and is offered at the sophomore, junior, and senior years to those who qualify.

Elizabeth Wesley is a grass roots effort that is supported by the community and local business. Since the program was established, Pierce County community’s investment in the program has totaled $1,260,700, providing recognition to over 3,000 students for their academic achievement with a $350 merit incentive award. This year the Puyallup School District’s administrators raised over $30,000 as a donation to the Elizabeth Wesley Foundation. In addition, two Sylvia Denman Scholarships were awarded to district students in the amount of $500.

On Saturday, September 15, teachers, interns, administrators, and the superintendent joined 73 students and their families from Puyallup School District to honor merit recipients at the Elizabeth Wesley Youth Merit Incentive Award Program.

To qualify, each student must:

  • Be in ninth through 11th grade
  • Have a cumulative grade point average of 2.50 or better
  • Write a well-structured/researched essay of at least 250 words
  • Provide evidence of community involvement in good citizenship

In addition to the recognition at the program ceremony, each comprehensive high school celebrates the award recipients at a special luncheon/breakfast attended by their administrators, school board members, and the superintendent. This recognition is to honor the recipients and provide them the opportunity to celebrate the achievement with their peers.

Congratulations to Puyallup School District’s 2017-18 Elizabeth Wesley Youth Merit Incentive Award and Scholarship Recipients.

List of recipients

If you are a student or a parent/guardian of a student who would like to learn about applying for the Elizabeth Wesley Youth Merit Incentive Awards Program, visit the district’s Equity and Diversity webpage or contact Chief Equity and Achievement Officer Gerald Denman at