Freemasons have always understood the importance of education. Theirs is the only fraternal organization which urges its members to study what they refer to as The Seven Liberal Arts and Sciences. These are grammar, rhetoric, logic, arithmetic, music, astronomy and geometry. Masonry encourages the study of these arts and sciences so that a man may be better enabled to serve society.
Since its official formation in 1717, Freemasonry has developed into a worldwide fraternity emphasizing personal study, self-improvement, and social betterment via individual involvement and philanthropy.
Freemasonry has historically been one of the organizations most responsible for spreading the ideals of the Enlightenment, which are the dignity of man, the liberty of the individual, the right of all persons to worship as they choose, the formation of democratic governments, and the importance of a public education.
Grand Master Benjamin Franklin vigorously urged the adoption of a public school system in Pennsylvania, and established the first public high school in America. Prior to this, education past the eighth grade was reserved for the wealthy and powerful.
Throughout much of America, Freemasons were directly responsible for establishing and promoting public school systems in their communities. It is their belief that an education is key to a peaceful and equal society.
The Grand Lodge of Freemasons in Iowa continues this historical support of public education through the activities of its Public School Support committee.
Their Public School Support committee oversees the Iowa Masonic Teacher of the Year program. Through this program, they are able to show their appreciation and support to those who are essential to this study. Monetary gifts are awarded to both the recipients as well as their schools.
The Grand Lodge of Iowa also supports education through two scholarship programs, the Mark Earl and Esther Ruth Spencer Technical Scholarship, and the Grand Lodge of Iowa Masonic Scholarship. Both are available to Iowa high school seniors, with an emphasis on a history of public service and the potential to be a future leader in the community.
The Mark Earl and Esther Ruth Spencer Technical Scholarship fund provides scholarships to graduating Iowa high school seniors who plan to enroll in a mechanical or trade course of study at an accredited Iowa Community College.
Graduating high school seniors interested in either of these scholarships are encouraged to apply. Applicants need not have a Masonic connection, nor do race, creed, religion, color, sex, or national origin have any bearing in the selection process. Recipients are selected after completing a comprehensive written application and an in-depth personal interview. Applications and application guidelines for these scholarships may be obtained through the guidance department of any public high school, or via the Grand Lodge of Iowa website.