In August 2012, the Texas Classroom Teachers Association awarded $108,000 in scholarships to 42 students pursuing higher education or vocational training. The TCTA Scholarship Program, now in its third year, is funded by the estate of the late philanthropists Charles and Phyllis Gottlieb, and it is unlike most other scholarship programs.

Rather than looking solely at transcripts and selecting only top academic performers, who often have multiple financial aid sources, TCTA chooses recipients who have faced hardships that make higher education unlikely without help – students like Fabian Esquivel.

Fabian Esquivel, 2012 TCTA Scholarship Recipient

Esquivel lost his father in an automobile accident when he was just 7 years old. He moved many times during his school years as his mother struggled to support the family.

“I’ve been working toward a better life since I was 7 years old,” he wrote in his scholarship application. “I want to rise above the tragedy in my life and I want to make something of myself. ... I want to be the one who changes the path of my future.”

Esquivel is using his $5,000 TCTA scholarship to study accounting at the University of Michigan, and he will be the first in his family to attend college.

A Different Type of Scholarship

When establishing the scholarship criteria, TCTA honored Phyllis Gottlieb's wishes, which were that educators be the ones who identify and nominate students for the scholarships, and that the students chosen be those who have the potential and desire to succeed in higher education but who would not likely have the opportunity to do so without assistance.

“The Gottliebs looked at several organizations before choosing TCTA to administer the scholarship program,” explained TCTA past-president Dolores Ramirez, the chair of the committee of educators that selected the 2012-13 scholarship recipients. “That was a significant act of trust, and we made every effort to honor their wishes and vision in selecting recipients.”

While determination and a strong desire to succeed are criteria for selection for the scholarships, preference is given to students who are the first in their families to seek higher education and whose family incomes do not exceed twice the poverty level. 

“Teachers are uniquely positioned to identify students who have the will and potential to succeed if they are just given the opportunity,” said Jeri Stone, TCTA executive director/general counsel.

About the TCTA Scholarship Program

TCTA scholarships are awarded in amounts up to $5,000 per year for tuition and required fees. The $108,000 awarded in 2012 includes $86,500 to 31 first-time recipients and $21,500 for 11 scholarship renewals.

In 2011, the TCTA Scholarship Program awarded a total of $69,000 to 29 students, and in 2010, the program awarded a total of $29,500 to 17 students, bringing the total awarded during the life of the program to $206,500.

The scholarships assist students pursuing courses of study leading to recognized degrees at accredited two- or four-year colleges, community colleges or career/technical schools. Recipients may apply for continued assistance based on satisfaction of specific academic criteria and availability of funds.

TCTA scholarship applications are due June 1 each year and can be submitted online at To be nominated, a student must:

  • be a high school senior and a U.S. citizen and Texas resident
  • demonstrate financial need
  • have a minimum GPA of 2.0 on a 4.0 scale
  • demonstrate the traits of strong personal character and potential for success

Nominators’ or nominees’ parents’ membership in TCTA is neither an advantage nor a disqualifier. However, teachers/counselors may not nominate their own children.

About TCTA

The Texas Classroom Teachers Association is a nonprofit, independent professional association serving more than 50,000 Texas educators. Founded in 1927, TCTA is based in Austin and is the only statewide teachers association that limits active-level membership to those directly involved in classroom teaching or teaching support, including librarians, counselors and teacher aides.