In 1973, Mrs. Bertha Pfersich Van Pelt started and funded the Adolph Van Pelt Foundation, Inc. to memorialize her only child Adolph, who came to the United States from Holland after World War II. He loved the United States and he became a citizen, attended college, and became a mechanical engineer. At the age of 47, Adolph died of cancer. After her son’s death, Mrs. Van Pelt decided to honor him by helping American Indians, which she felt was truly “American.”
The Adolph Van Pelt Foundation, Inc. was founded to help Native American men and women obtain a college education and return to their communities and help other Natives do the same. When Mrs. Van Pelt passed away she left everything she had to the Foundation. In 1987, the trustees of the Foundation felt that it would be in the long - term best interest to transfer the funds from the Foundation to a larger organization that would be able to continue the good work that had been started and contacted AAIA. The AAIA Adolph Van Pelt Special Fund for Indian Scholarships (better known as the AAIA Adolph Van Pelt Scholarship) was established.
AAIA is grateful for the vision and generosity of Mrs. Van Pelt and the Adolph Van Pelt Foundation in planning for the higher education of Native students. Without those like Mrs. Van Pelt and the Foundation, AAIA would not be able to provide as many scholarships to Native students seeking a higher education.