New scholarship to support NC students attending Virginia Tech

A new scholarship fund has been established to benefit students from North Carolina who are studying at Virginia Tech.

The Dr. Donald W. Bentley Memorial Scholarship, named after an educator, is a new endowed scholarship established at the North Carolina Community Foundation (NCCF). The scholarship is open to any North Carolina student, but preference will be given to graduating seniors from Watauga High School and Watauga Innovation Academy who are planning to attend Virginia Tech. The one-time scholarship is expected to award about $10,000 annually and could be split among several students in a given year.

The scholarship was established by Dr. Bentley’s spouse, Audrey Bentley. Mrs. Bentley died in 2019 and her wishes were to honor her husband’s high regard for and loyalty to Virginia Tech.

Scholarship candidates must be high school seniors who exhibit academic excellence, leadership, personal effort and good citizenship, or a college graduate (or expected college graduate) who is pursuing an advanced degree at Virginia Tech.

The scholarship is in addition to the renewable Don and Audrey Bentley Scholarship established in 2020 for Watauga High School and Watauga Innovation Academy graduates. It is now in its third year.

“This new scholarship for students going to Virginia Tech reflects Audrey’s commitment to honor the school that made such a difference in Don’s life, and it reflects the loyalty Virginia Tech students show after attending that great school,” said David Harman, executor of the Bentley estate. 

Don and Audrey Bentley

Dr. Bentley was a Watauga County native and lifelong educator who died in 2005. Born in 1935, he attended Blowing Rock School and Appalachian State University, was a member of the US Air Force, and earned his doctorate in education at Virginia Tech. During his career, he served as principal of both Blowing Rock School and Watauga High School, assistant superintendent of Watauga County Schools and superintendent of the Cherokee County School System.

Audrey Bentley died in March 2019. She graduated from Blowing Rock High School and attended Appalachian State University. She retired as an executive assistant with the Robbins family, who developed Carolina Caribbean, Tweetsie Railroad, Hound Ears Club and Elk River Club. Audrey was also a licensed North Carolina real estate broker and worked in Cherokee County for several years.

NCCF is the single statewide community foundation serving North Carolina and has administered more than $217 million in grants since its inception in 1988. With more than $400 million in assets, NCCF sustains more than 1,200 endowments established to provide long-term support of a broad range of community needs, nonprofit organizations, institutions and scholarships. NCCF partners with a network of affiliate foundations to provide local resource allocation and community assistance across the state.

The Dr. Don W. Bentley Memorial Scholarship is now one of 35 funds of the Watauga County Community Foundation, an affiliate of NCCF established in 1993 with the establishment of a Legacy Fund. The Watauga County Community Foundation now includes endowment holdings of over $8 million.  Last year the endowment funds of the Watauga County Community Foundation made 43 grants and scholarships totaling more than $690,000.

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Amy Dominello Braun, Senior Communications & Marketing Officer, 919-256-6922