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Partnership means more scholarships for youth

By Staff | Nov 14, 2008

A partnership brokered by a Sanibel Island resident will pave the way for elementary students in the Lee County School District to receive scholarships to go to college.

Dr. Bill Frey discussed a partnership between the Foundation for Lee County Public Schools and the Carson Scholars Fund on Wednesday that will endow $500,000 to 15 elementary schools.

Each school will be given $30,000 in college scholarships for students in the fourth and fifth grade who scored a 3.75 GPA or higher and undertake a community service project.

Also, the students will be honored at a local annual banquet and awarded a medal of honor. They may also reapply each year for more scholarships if they wish.

This year, all 47 elementary schools in the school district will be given funding for college scholarships because of additional support ($1,500) from Frey, whose team is working hard to find more local donors for students. Recent additional donors include The Price Foundation, John and Ellen Sheppard and another anonymous donor.

“It’s to get them out of an understanding that they don’t think they can be a college graduate,” said Frey. “Think about the difference it will make in kids.”

Charlotte Rafferty, a district principal-on-assignment for elementary schools, said scholarships are a motivating factor for children who want to succeed.

“The key is that the younger you get them involved, the better it is,” she said. “The principals are excited about this program.”

Marshall Bower, executive director of the Foundation for Lee County Public Schools, said there is no other organization that provides scholarships to elementary students. Currently, the foundation offers scholarships to middle and high school students through the Take Stock In Children program.

“One of the things we strive to do is make as many opportunities for students as possible to succeed globally,” said Bower.

He also said that is the largest single gift ever given by the Carson Scholars program since it was created in 1984.

Frey is a former professor and is the president emeritus of the Southwest Florida Community Foundation. He has been a resident of Sanibel Island since 1973.

“This will continue the ripple effect of placing our high academic achievers and future leaders (Carson Scholars) on the pedestal they deserve, so that as role models they can encourage their peers to strive harder for academic excellence,” said Frey.