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Helen Abbott, friend, humanitarian, and philanthropist, made dreams come true in the Lincoln Park Community of Fort Pierce, Florida. Upon arriving in the community in 1989, Ms. Abbott noticed that most of the individuals needing affordable housing and paying rent were black. The bell of discrimination rang in her head, and her active mind started thinking of ways in which she could become active in her new community. Ms. Abbott donated $500,000 from her personal funds and worked closely with the City’s Housing Authority to secure an additional $100,000. Her goal to develop twenty-two homes for twenty-two families in the community was completed in 1998. Helen Abbott passed away in August 1999.

Ms. Abbott was a life-long friend of AAI, a founding member, generous supporter and vocal advocate. A community park has been dedicated in Ms. Abbott’s memory in the Lincoln Park community she helped to create. A bronze memorial, made possible in part from a gift from AAI, was unveiled in September 1999. Ms. Abbott made a bequest to our Foundation which has been converted to a youth leadership scholarship in her memory.


About the Award

Helen Abbott Community Service Awards honor students under 30 whose devotion to community service, selfless acts of care, and interest in improving the quality of life for others reflect the life of the Awards’ namesake. 

The Helen Abbott Community Service Awards is given in two categories:

(1) achievement by a college/university student, and (2) achievement by a high school student.

The Foundation will award a maximum of three $1,000 individual prizes in 2020.


Eligibility Criteria and Instructions 

Finalists will be chosen by the Review Committee of the Arab American Institute Foundation. Successful candidates will be notified by April.

Strongest applicants for the Award must:

  • be currently enrolled as an undergraduate in a college or university program; or enrolled in high school
  • provide a resume which indicates a strong interest and commitment to community service;
  • maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA verified by either an official or unofficial transcript;
  • submit two letters of recommendation;
  • provide one essay discussing in no more than 700 words how their field of study is a springboard for a life of community service and what growing up/being Arab American means to the applicant; and,
  • be a U.S. citizen or permanent legal resident of Arab descent.

Applications can be made using the application form below. 

Letters of recommendation should be submitted by e-mail on behalf of the applicant from the recommender onlyElectronic letters of recommendation sent by the applicant will not be accepted.

Please send letters to esemaan@aaiusa.org, including "Helen Abbott" and the name of the applicant in the subject line.  

Questions about applying? Please contact Edy Semaan.