No one would argue that it’s fitting to name scholarships and other types of funds in honor of Focus: Hope co-founder Eleanor Josaitis, who passed away last week.
But is an organization required to seek permission from surviving family members before it does so?
The Engineering Society of Detroit this week established the Eleanor Josaitis Engineering Hope Scholarship to honor Josaitis, who received the organization’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009.
ESD plans to award the scholarship once a year to a Focus: Hope student who plans to pursue a college degree in engineering or a related field.
In addition to their grade point average, past achievements and communication skills, applicants will also be judged on their volunteerism and overall community involvement—qualities that harken back to Josaitis and her life’s work.
Following her death last week, Focus: Hope asked that donations be made to honor her to the nonprofit’s Eleanor Josaitis Fund for Focus: Hope.
The fund will support current operations, donor-advised projects, its early childhood learning Center for Children and scholarships for students in Focus: Hope programs, said Focus: Hope CEO William Jones Jr.
Focus: Hope had planned to kick off the fund publicly in December with a tribute event to honor Eleanor and what would have been her 80th birthday.
Josaitis endorsed the creation of the fund named for her before her death, as does her family, Jones said.
There’s no legal requirement to seek a family’s permission to name a scholarship after a deceased person, said Kyle Caldwell, president of the Michigan Nonprofit Association.
Still, it is a good practice to ensure that donors are well informed on intent, he said.
If a nonprofit were to set up a fund through an educational institution or community foundation, those institutions might impose a requirement for permission to ensure their own