TRUE NORTH HEROES SPOTLIGHT: An Interview with Margo Cianchetta

You don’t have to wear a cape—or a uniform—to be a hero.

Twenty years ago, Margarita “Margo” Cianchetta was able to attend college thanks to a scholarship from the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation.  Today, she’s helping other young people achieve their dream of attending college by working for the very same foundation.

DAUGHTER OF A MARINE

Margo grew up in a military family.  Her father served almost 30 years in the Marine Corps and rose to the rank of Sergeant Major before his retirement in 2002.  He was on active duty for the first 14 years of his service but moved to the Reserves after Margo and her younger sister were born in order to provide them with a stable home and family life.  Margo credits her father with passing on many of the Marine Corps’ values to her.  When discussing this aspect of her upbringing, Margo said:

“The core values the Marine Corps instills in you are honor, courage, and commitment.  So as a Marine child, those are the kinds of things that you take with you, especially as the daughter of a Sergeant Major.  You do everything you can to not only be the best that you can be but to make him proud.”

As a high school senior, Margo knew two things—she wanted to attend college and she wouldn’t be able to do so without financial assistance.  While researching scholarship opportunities, she learned about the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation (MCSF), which provides needs-based scholarships to the children of Marines.  She applied and was awarded a scholarship, which allowed her to attend Rutgers University, where she graduated summa cum laude with a degree in Communications.  (Her younger sister also received a scholarship from the MCSF and used it to attend Rider University.)

GIVING BACK

After graduating college in 2006, Margo got her dream job working for MTV but was laid off in 2008, due to the Great Recession.  Rather than dwelling on her misfortune, she chose to take this loss as an opportunity to step back and reflect on what she wanted the next phase of her life to look like.  She realized that she wanted a job where she could give back to her community.  She shared that it was at this point in her life that she “found philanthropy.”  Margo soon got another job—this time with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  She dedicated herself to learning about the world of non-profit organizations and became a Certified Fund Raising Executive. 

In 2022, life came full circle for Margo when she was hired as Director of Development for the MCSF.  In this position, she uses the skills she learned while earning her degree to cultivate new and existing donor relationships. “I feel extremely honored to be a part of the Foundation …because of the way that others before me gave back, I’m able to give back and help support our scholars.”

Margo’s commitment to philanthropy isn’t limited to her professional life.  In her free time, she runs marathons to raise money for charitable causes.  She began running in 2008 and is especially proud that she ran her first race, the Marine Corps Historic Half-Marathon, to raise money for a charity that supports those with autism.

MARINE CORPS SCHOLARSHIP FOUNDATION

The Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, which is the nation’s oldest and largest provider of post-secondary scholarship funds, is currently celebrating its 60th anniversary.  The MCSF provides scholarships that are awarded solely on the basis of financial need and the only requirements are that recipients must be the sons and daughters of Marines, Navy corpsmen, or religious chaplains tied to Marine units, and must graduate high school with a 2.0 GPA.  Scholarships allow students to focus on their studies and on maximizing their potential, while it relieves them (and their parents) of the financial burden of paying for their education.  

Over the past 60 years, the MCSF has awarded over 50,000 scholarships, valued at $185 million.  This year, 2,600 scholarships helped change the lives of Marine families and the MCSF provided $10 million in scholarship support.  Ninety-one percent of those who receive scholarships graduate and MCSF scholars also maintain an average GPA of 3.43.  

Margo summed up the philosophy of the MCSF when she said “Similar to the Marines, where they don’t leave a Marine behind, we feel at the Foundation that it’s our duty to leave no Marine family behind.”

SUPPORT TRUE NORTH AND THE MCSF

When True North founder and CEO Greg Parsons began the corporate initiative that would eventually become the True North Foundation, the Marine Corps Scholarship Fund was one of the first organizations he chose to support.  Parsons, a former Marine, serves on the MCSF’s Board of Directors and is committed to the organization’s mission of providing the children of Marines with the support they need to achieve their dreams.  Parsons isn’t the only member of the True North family who directly contributes his time to the MCSF.  In October 2022, Riley Gregoire, our Director of Strategic Partnerships, raised funds for the MCSF by completing the Marine Corps Marathon.

Help the True North Foundation continue to support the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation. Please share his story and consider donating this holiday season as we aim to reach our $25,000 goal by clicking on the following link: https://donorbox.org/givingtuesday-117.

Thank you for your support!

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