For Derek Pierce, a sophomore finance major at Eastern Illinois University, scholarship support is about more than dollars and cents or even just the opportunity to attend college. “My scholarship has given me freedom to enjoy my college experience and take advantage of all the incredible opportunities EIU has given me, he said. “Every student deserves the freedom of a college experience that helps them discover who they can become.”
In an effort to inspire more stories like Derek’s, Mattoon Area Community Foundation has announced an effort to bring the Mattoon High School Alumni Scholarship Fund to $500,000 by 2020. According to Mattoon Area Community Foundation board member Clay Dean, “The MHS Alumni Scholarship Committee has done an outstanding job building the scholarship beginning in 2011 by recognizing the first 100 contributions of $100 to $1,000 as members of the Founder’s Club. A total of $8,500, representing 13 individual scholarships, has been awarded since then, with six scholarships available this year.”
A key aspect of building this fund is the collaborative effort of individuals and businesses investing in the next generation of community leaders, businessmen and women, who will be living, working and raising their families here in Mattoon. By investing in their future now, we are investing in the economic betterment of our community and all its members. “We are well on our way to the half-million in funds, which means soon we will be able to hand out three-times what we give now, closer to $25,000 per year in scholarships for graduates. The recipients are in turn encouraged to pay it forward and give back to the community that helped them,” Dean said.
As a demonstration of its own commitment to the MHS Scholarship Campaign, the Florence Parker Family Fund, established in honor of the long-time Mattoon resident who was an active supporter of educational scholarships during her lifetime, has announced a challenge match of $15,000 per year for five years. The family hopes to encourage individual and corporate donors to support future Mattoon High School students by contributing to the scholarship fund.
According to David Janssen, a member of the MHS Alumni Scholarship Committee, a fundraising plan has been developed and the group will be working toward a goal of $250,000 by December 2016. “The most meaningful way we can offset the financial obstacles faced by families is by growing the level of private scholarship support we have available to meet that need,” said Janssen. “We are committed to the challenge of ensuring that the promise of a college education remains within reach of all Mattoon families.”
Additional information regarding the Mattoon High School Alumni Scholarship or the Mattoon Area Community Foundation can be obtained by contacting Clay Dean, at (217) 234-5585.