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ArlingtonEducationDonor offers million-dollar match for Wakefield scholarship fund

Donor offers million-dollar match for Wakefield scholarship fund

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A newly announced dollar-for-dollar match could net the Wakefield High School Educational Foundation’s scholarship fund as much as $2 million over the coming year.

It was announced June 2 that Henry “Ric” Duques, a 1961 graduate of the high school, and his wife Dawn had made an up-to-$1 million pledge to the foundation, which will match funds raised by the organization for the year ending June 30, 2023. The pledge comes through the Duques Educational Trust.

While at Wakefield, Ric Duques was a co-captain of the 1961 state-champion basketball team, which ended the season with a 26-0 record, and attended George Washington University on a basketball scholarship. He later went on to become CEO of First Data Corp., the nation’s largest bank-card-processing firm.

When asked what he learned at Wakefield that helped him to be a better leader, Ric Duques answered: “Tolerance of other people, a sense of being part of a team and really listening to other people.” To today’s students, his advice is: “You can always do a little bit better than you think you can do.”

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The Wakefield Education Foundation is a volunteer-run non-profit that was created in 1986 and has raised more than $3 million to help over 540 students go on to higher education. Each year, the Foundation awards scholarships to students attending four-year colleges or universities (currently $12,000 each), scholarships to students attending Northern Virginia Community College (currently $6,000 each), scholarships to previous Northern Virginia Community College scholars to continue on to a four-year college or university (currently $6,000 each) and scholarships to students moving forward with career and technical training.

The total amount awarded each year is typically in the neighborhood of $250,000.

“This support from Ric and Dawn will secure the future of the all-volunteer Foundation and it will allow the Foundation to select one scholar each year to receive the Duques Educational Trust Scholarship that will be much larger than the regular four-year scholarships,” the foundation said. “This will provide more meaningful funding to one deserving Wakefield graduate each year.”

Despite having a student body that spans the economic spectrum, Wakefield produces a graduating class each year that sees more than 90 percent advance to higher education.

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