The St. Johns River State College Foundation, which provides scholarships for students, is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
Caroline Tingle, SJR State’s vice president for development and external affairs said private support is essential for the foundation to maintain access to affordable education.
The foundation’s net position is more than $5.7 million according to the college’s report of the fiscal year ending March 31. The scholarships are funded by the contributions of businesses, nonprofits and individual donors.
Tingle said scholarships can lift large financial burdens.
“Our donors are a gift to SJR State and supporting our foundation is an investment in our community and our future,” Tingle said. “We are dedicated to raising money to create scholarships for our students to begin or complete their degrees. I have seen the impact that scholarships can make on one’s life.”
To further assist students, the Palatka Senior High School class of 1961 established the Putnam County Scholars endowed scholarship in 2013. The idea originated in 2011 at the group’s 50th reunion. Three class members donated $5,000 to allow four students to receive the scholarship seven years ago. Class members said they wanted to make an investment in the future of the county, create something that would grow and expand opportunities the county may have lacked.
The class of 1961’s fund now stands at $122,000, the college said in a press release. This fall, donors raised $1,000 for eight students.
“When you establish an endowment fund, you create a permanent legacy of support for SJR State,” Tingle said.
Palatka resident and clinical paramedic Steven Middlebrook, 31, received an associate degree and bachelor’s degree from the college with assistance from the endowment fund.
Another recipient was nursing student Sheba Woolard, 41, a patient care technician. She said receiving a scholarship was a sigh of relief.
“Getting that scholarship money helped me out. I could at least get a laptop and things I needed to continue my education,” Woolard said. “That’s why this scholarship was such a big help to me. I moved out here with no family. It’s literally just me and my daughter, so I have no one to depend on but me.”
For more information, contact the St. Johns River State College Foundation at 312-4100.
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