College Fund Sends Checks to 37 Local Students
Shortly after the August 14, 2009 Board of Directors meeting of the College Fund of Pinellas County, Inc. at the Seminole Public Library, Treasurer Sherry Rankine of Clearwater, began sending $500 checks to 19 happy Pinellas County college students who had just been selected as grant recipients. The 19 new recipients joined 18 others who had been selected in previous years and been through the same rigorous selection process involving a review of grades and finances and a personal interview.
The College Fund of Pinellas County is a non-profit organization run entirely by volunteers which was founded by recently-deceased Hillsborough Elections Supervisor Phyllis Busansky, and others in 1965. It raises money in order to help financially-disadvantaged Pinellas County residents who have excellent scholastic potential, but insufficient funds to obtain a bachelor's degree and thereby improve themselves, their family's living standard, and their role in the community. Over the past 44 years the College Fund has helped over 600 Pinellas County residents achieve their goal of a college education.
Grants are typically $1,000 per year in $500 increments dependent upon a review of grades, finances and course load after each semester. Mentors are provided to student recipients who request one. The number of grants available each year is completely dependent upon the organization's success in fundraising.
Since the College Fund has no paid employees, overhead is minimal; in fact, the donations of the organization's board members more than cover administrative expenses, so 100% of external contributions go to help the students.
The College Fund depends on an operating grant from the Pinellas Community Foundation and the donations of clubs and individuals to sustain its students. For example, during the past year the College Fund received donations from the Optimist Club of St. Petersburg and the Women's Fellowship at the Church of the Isles in Indian Rocks Beach, among others. Several donations were also received in memory of Phyllis Busansky.
The 19 newly-chosen students live throughout Pinellas County - six are from St. Petersburg, five from Clearwater, two each from Tarpon Springs, Palm Harbor and Seminole and one each from Largo and Gulfport. All but one are attending schools located in Florida with eleven in the local area at St. Petersburg College, Eckerd College, USF or the University of Tampa. Six are freshmen, four are sophomores, eight are juniors and one is a senior.
The academic prowess of the new selectees is outstanding. The 13 sophomores, juniors and seniors collectively have a 3.59 college grade point average. The six new freshmen collectively have a high school grade point average of 3.42 unweighted and 3.73 weighted.
Unfortunately, there are another 11 well-qualified candidates on a waiting list, hoping that additional funds become available. Interested contributors can send tax-exempt donations to the College Fund of Pinellas County, Inc., P.O. Box 673, Clearwater, FL 33757.
Applications for College Fund Grants are accepted only in the summer, after spring semester grades are available. Applications must meet the following four requirements.
Additional details can be found on the organization's website: www.collegefundpinellas.org
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