scholarships and awards


nancy peace action against prejudice award

The mission of the YWCA is peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. This vision can not be achieved until there is racial equality in our nation. This is a challenging yet critical conversation in communities such as ours with predominantly white populations. Each year, the YWCA awards the Nancy E. Peace Award to a community member who has accepted that challenge and who, through their professional or volunteer lives, has made valuable contributions towards eliminating racism, fighting prejudice, and celebrating diversity. The award is presented annually at the YWCA’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Event in January.  Nominations are accepted from members of the community during the fall of the year. Complete the nomination form and return to the YWCA.

The Nancy E. Peace Action Against Prejudice Award was established in 1998 by the YWCA Greater Newburyport to recognize individuals who, through their professional or volunteer lives, have made valuable contributions towards eliminating racism, fighting prejudice, and celebrating diversity. We welcome nominations for any adult or youth who lives or works in one of the communities served by the YWCA Greater Newburyport: Newburyport, Newbury, West Newbury, Amesbury, Merrimac, Salisbury, Georgetown, Rowley and Ipswich, MA; and Seabrook, Hampton, Hampton Falls and Kensington, NH.


   nancy digrezio memorial scholarship

The Nancy DiGrezio Memorial Scholarship was established in 2007 in memory of former YWCA Board Member Nancy DiGrezio, a long-time local advocate for social justice. The scholarship is awarded annually to a high school senior who lives or attends school within the YWCA Greater Newburyport’s service area* who is a leader and peacemaker among her or his peers; whose actions exemplify tolerance and understanding of differences; and who, by example, empowers other students to respond to acts of intolerance and discrimination.

The YWCA will accept scholarship applications beginning on the national celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. An application screening committee of YWCA Board and community members will select the scholarship recipient. The scholarship will be announced at the Annual Meeting of the YWCA Greater Newburyport and will be awarded to the recipient at the year-end senior awards assembly at the recipient’s high school, so that he or she may be recognized in front of his or her peers, teachers and family.     *The YWCA Greater Newburyport serves the thirteen communities of Newburyport, Newbury, West Newbury, Salisbury, Amesbury, Merrimac, Georgetown, Rowley, Ipswich, Seabrook, Hampton, Hampton Falls, and Kensington.

nancy digrezio

Nancy DiGrezio actively lived and loved the mission work of the YWCA. Her tireless efforts on behalf of affordable housing, peace, diversity and tolerance were constant yet gentle reminders of the ongoing need for the YWCA’s mission work and how one person can have tremendous impact on the lives of others in our community. During her tenure with the YWCA Board of Directors, Nancy chaired the organization’s Advocacy Committee and Co-Chaired the 2005 and 2006 Martin Luther King Jr. Annual Breakfasts. In 2005, she advocated on behalf of the creation of the Mayor’s Commission on Tolerance and Diversity, and was a charter appointee to the Commission by Mayor Mary Anne Clancy.


connie grasso award

The Connie Grasso Award was established in 2015 by the YWCA Greater Newburyport to recognize individuals who, through their professional or volunteer lives, have impacted their community positively by supporting women’s health issues as Connie did. As an employee of the YWCA, Connie was passionate about growing and furthering the reach of programs like YWCA Encore Plus, and My Life, My Health, that improved the lives of women and those suffering from the effects of breast cancer and chronic disease. Through the establishment of this award, we hope to shine the light on members of our community who share Connie’s passion and commitment to community and women’s health.



pat polletta memorial trophy

The YWCA Pat Polletta Memorial Trophy is given to a young woman, currently a high school junior from a school within the greater Newburyport area, who consistently:

  • attains athletic achievement in either cross country or track and field
  • exhibits leadership qualities by serving as a mentor and role model to her teammates
  • demonstrates a commitment to community service through word and action

A committee composed of YWCA board and community members selects the winner and presents the award to her at the YWCA Annual Meeting.

pat polletta

Pat Polletta was a resident of Amesbury. Pat ran three marathons in the 1930s and 40s. Tragically, he was paralyzed by an injury sustained while working at sea. When he returned to Massachusetts, he trained at the YWCA pool daily for more than 20 years. He subsequently spearheaded the creation of the first girls’ track program in the Merrimack Valley and coached the Amesbury High School cross-country and track teams for many years. He was a life-long advocate of fitness as a powerful means to build self-esteem and empower young people.

For 28 years the YWCA Greater Newburyport sponsored the Annual Pat Polletta Road Race. The race offered competition for running enthusiasts of all ages, levels and abilities. Upon Pat’s death in 2005, the YWCA established the Pat Polletta Memorial Trophy as a fitting tribute to a man who was a staunch believer in providing opportunity to young women.