The life of Carole L. Russell, a former employee of the Child Development Center (CDC) at Keene State College who passed away in 2015, will be remembered by an endowed scholarship in her name; The Carole Russell Memorial Endowment Fund.
“If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in,” said poet Rachel Carson. According to multiple people who knew Carole Russell personally, this was her favorite quote, and it embodied her passion for working with children.
According to an overview of the fund, it will allow local children in economic need to attend the CDC. The CDC is a New Hampshire State Licensed learning community that provides programs for infants to five-year-olds.
Russell’s husband, a former professor of KSC, David Payson, was helping pay students’ tuition at the CDC on his own. Payson said, “After my wife died I wanted to do something with the CDC. I had initially thought, well for a few years I’ll just fund a tuition scholarship for the CDC for a family that was economically disadvantaged … I began providing funds out of pocket to support this.”
After two years of doing so, the Advancement Division at KSC stepped in. “The advancement office suggested we should do an endowed scholarship … I began this because I wanted to preserve my wife’s name in association with CDC … I wanted some element of that to continue. I thought it was a wonderful idea,” Payson said.
The fund is in collaboration with Keene Housing Kids Collaborative (KHKC), which is a non-profit organization serving kids who live in housing owned or managed by Keene Housing.
The fund will be available to at least one Keene Housing child resident per year. Senior Engagement Officer of the Advancement Division, Sara Barrett, said, “The fund will provide a scholarship of at least $1,125. If we raise more than $25,000, which we aim to do, the scholarship amount can grow and support more children whose families live in Keene Housing.”
According to Barrett, $20,587.66 of the $25,000 goal has already been collected through fundraising.
According to Barrett, the fundraising that is done begins with soliciting parents of past children who attended the CDC and had a positive experience.
Barrett said, “After fundraising at this level … we take a look at all stakeholder groups and put together a plan to solicit support by mail, e-mail, phone, crowdfunding or other distribution channels. This type of campaign typically brings in many smaller, but very necessary, gifts to help us to reach our goal.”
Barrett also said that The Office of Development plans on keeping donors updated on the progress of the fund, and plan to get a small event together to thank everyone who donated.
According to various people who knew Russell on a personal and professional level, this fund to help children receive early childhood education is the embodiment of her passion for her work at the CDC.
Retired journalism professor at KSC Rose Kundanis said, “She always had a smile, she was always enjoying the children she worked with. The CDC is a valuable thing and Carole in particular was one of the people who made it a very valuable place for the campus.”
Former colleague and friend of Russell’s and current Facilitating Teacher at the CDC, Stacey Fortin, said, “She was a just a good friend in every sense of the word. However you would describe your closest friend, that was her for me.”
Fortin also said that Russell was actively involved with families at the CDC.
“Many families have shared personal stories with me about Carole and each story demonstrated how much Carole valued her partnerships with families.”
Russell was also involved with a child gardening and nutrition program at the CDC called Early Sprouts with Dean of Sciences, Sustainability and Health, Karrie Kalich.
Kalich said of the fund, “It’s an initiative that reflects who Carole was and is truly reflective of her dedication to the growth and development of young children.”
The fund will be available for KHKC families to apply for once all the funds are raised.
Donations toward the scholarship can be mailed as checks payable to Keene State College (memo line: Carole Russell Endowment) and addressed to Advancement Services, Keene State College, 229 Main Street-MD2701, Keene, NH 03435.
Donations can also be made online at www.keene.edu/donate (designation: other — Carole Russell Endowment). Donations can be made at any time.
Rachel Vitello can be contacted at