Take Stock In Children (TSIC), a 60 credit hour (2-year) college tuition scholarship program announced at its Leadership Council meeting on Feb. 26, 2013, that it has provided a post-secondary (beyond high school) education opportunity for 92 Washington County students in the last eight years. A total of 36 scholarship students are currently enrolled in county schools in grades seven through 12 and seven will graduate this spring from high school. Additionally, 51 students have graduated from county high schools and continued their college education, with five having now graduated from college.
The number of scholarship contracts to be awarded varies from year-to-year based upon the donations from Washington County businesses and individuals, as well as money in the state matching account. Since starting in 2005, the local TSIC has raised about $400,000 which excludes the state-level match, and the total value of scholarships is estimated at over $1,000,000 as tuition costs have escalated in recent years.
The TSIC program is operated by the Washington County Scholarship Foundation, Inc.,, which holds federal and state income tax exemption with charitable organization registration, so donations are generally tax deductible for individual donors.
The Foundation is currently raising funds for scholarships to be awarded next November that must be committed to Florida Prepaid in July, and while there is a pool of repeat donors, all county residents are encouraged to give consideration to making a donation for a program that directly benefits Washington County high school graduates. Donations can be made by contacting David Solger, WCSF, Inc., president at 638-1276, or Foundation treasurer Rey Gustason at 638-5663. For information, visit www.takestockinchildren.org.
To obtain the TSIC scholarship, a student must be in grades 7 – 11, sign a contract to meet certain standards during the remaining school years until high school graduation, and have family support; the parents/guardians also sign a contract to support their student. Family incomes must be below a certain level based upon the number of children in the family at the time the qualification for TSIC is established. TSIC allocates more scholarships to grades seven through nine so the students will have more years in the program prior to high school graduation. Applications are taken each September shortly after the school year starts and are available from middle and high school guidance counselors.
What sets the TSIC program apart from other scholarship programs is the age range for qualification, the appointment of an adult mentor to coordinate with the student on a frequent basis throughout the school year, the written contract with the student to maintain average or above grades, stay away from drugs and alcohol, and generally be a good citizen and active in school and community events outside the classroom.
There is a need for additional student adult mentors who work directly with the students, and for additional student advocates who are the liaison between Take Stock and the local schools and guidance counselors. Other volunteer opportunities are available to serve on the Leadership Council that guides the total program or in fund raising. The Washington County Take Stock In Children program is locally run and locally funded and there is always work for willing hands, with all funds donated going directly to scholarships.