By Staff Report September 2, 2020 NEW LONDON – Teala Avery, of Norwich, is one of 309 students from across the region who has received a scholarship from the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut. The foundation awarded more than $758,000 in scholarships this year, an increase of 26 individual scholarships and more than $33,000 in total awards from 2019. Avery, a recipient of the Danny Gilman Memorial Scholarship and the Thomas P. Quinn Memorial Scholarship, s majoring in photography at Spelman College so that she can “bring awareness to the injustices that underserved communities suffer from around the world,” according to a press release Wednesday. This year’s scholarship season was different from last year. “The pandemic changed both the financial circumstances and college plans of a number of students, resulting in many recipients deciding to attend a local public institution instead of heading to a private college, as well as in a record number of scholarship awards deferred for a semester or full year,” said Community Foundation Program Director Jennifer O’Brien. At least 18 students in this year’s applicant pool were able to take advantage of Connecticut Commitment, the new state initiative to provide full tuition to UConn Storrs or any UConn regional campus for eligible first-time, full-time students, and Pledge to Advance Connecticut (PACT), a similar effort to cover tuition at any state community college for eligible students. “College can be a lifeline for students from financially burdened families, especially now as we face the COVID-19 crisis. For that reason, we sharpened our focus on reaching first generation college students, students of color and those with the greatest financial need. The Community Foundation sends our best wishes to these students as they launch their college and technical careers in challenging circumstances,” Maryam Elahi, president and CEO, said. The Community Foundation’s scholarships are made possible through the generosity of donors who understand the value of opening doors for students and investing in the future. These caring donors have established 122 scholarship funds at the Community Foundation, awarding nearly $8 million to more than 3,800 students since 1983.