Tag Archives: High School Graduation

The Amarillo Area Foundation Awards over $475,000 in Scholarships

7/18/17

Contact: Broc Carter | 806.376.4521 | broc@aaf-hf.org

AMARILLO – The Amarillo Area Foundation has awarded 312 scholarships totaling $479,400 to Panhandle area students for the 2017-2018 school year.

Of the 312 scholarship awarded, 180 are for new scholarship recipients and 132 are for recipients that are continuing to receive previously awarded scholarships.  The Foundation received 3,136 applications from high school students and 108 applications from college students.  The scholarship recipients represent 23 Panhandle counties and will attend 32 different universities.

The Foundation administers 101 scholarship funds in addition to the Achievement through Commitment to Education (ACE) Scholarship program.  The Foundation’s Scholarship Selection Committee recommends recipients for 58 of the 101 non-ACE funds and local selection committees outside the Foundation recommend recipients for the remaining funds.  The Foundation manages many unique scholarships that are not only for graduating high school seniors but are also for individuals who are already college students.

”Now that the application is online, more students from the Panhandle area are accessing and applying for scholarships that are managed by the Foundation. We are proud to be investing in the future of many young Panhandle residents, both local and rural,” said Amarillo Area Foundation Vice President of Community Investment, Katharyn Wiegand.

For more information on Amarillo Area Foundation Scholarships contact scholarships@aaf-hf.org or 806-376-4521. You can also visit amarilloareafoundation.org/scholarships.

To donate or to establish a scholarship fund contact Amy Lovell, Director of Development at amy@aaf-hf.org or 806-376-4521.

The Amarillo Area Foundation is a community foundation that serves the northernmost 26 counties of the Texas Panhandle.  The mission of the Foundation is to improve the quality of life for Texas Panhandle residents.  Since its inception in 1957, the Foundation has provided grants and a variety of other services to strengthen nonprofit organizations and the services they deliver.

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About the Amarillo Area Foundation

The Amarillo Area Foundation is a community foundation that serves the northernmost 26 counties of the Texas Panhandle.  The mission of the Foundation is to improve the quality of life for Texas Panhandle residents.  Since its inception in 1957, the Foundation has provided grants and a variety of other services to strengthen nonprofit organizations and the services they deliver

Amarillo Area Foundation Announces Completion of ACE Expansion Campaign

Blog_headerWednesday, August 31, 2016

AMARILLO, TX – In 2009, the Amarillo Area Foundation made a commitment to grow the ACE Endowment by $5 million. Growing the endowment allowed the ACE program to expand its outreach to three elementary schools in the Tasocsa High School cluster. Fifth graders attending Bivins, Margaret Wills, and San Jacinto elementary schools are now eligible for ACE scholarship funds if they enter Tascosa in their freshman year and maintain the program requirements for grades, attendance, and behavior.

This past May, 39 Tascosa seniors graduated ACE eligible, joining 154 of their ACE colleagues from Palo Duro and 192 ACE graduates from Caprock High School. Roya and Sheida Jaberiandoraji were the first two Tascosa ACE graduates.  Both girls completed high school in two years and began their college career at Amarillo College in 2014.  They are currently studying at West Texas A&M University this fall.

Since the first graduating class of ACE students in 1998, more than 4,800 students have graduated ACE eligible, 3,267 have attended college on an ACE scholarship, and 1,374 have earned a college degree or postsecondary certificate. Almost $6.5 million has been awarded in ACE scholarships and the Amarillo Area Foundation has helped students obtain more than $16 million in federal funding and other scholarship funds. ACE students have a wealth of resources to assist them in their postsecondary pursuits because of the dedication of ACE donors.

More than 2,000 donors have made gifts to ACE totaling over $9.9 million since the inception of the program in 1994. Individuals, corporations, and foundations made diligent efforts to provide lasting impact in the lives of ACE students and their families and also in the social and economic prosperity of the Amarillo community.

A special gift was made in honor of Robin Gilliland Weir by her husband, David Weir, to finalize the expansion. Gilliland Weir was Co-Chair of the ACE Campaign with Allen Durrett. Gilliland Weir commented, “I am so proud of our community for creating and funding ACE for 22 years. I have always loved this program because of how many lives it has touched.  To educate the youth of our community is a win/win for all of us!”

For Gilliland Weir, giving to ACE was also a familial legacy. “My parents have been donors to ACE since it began at Palo Duro and set an example of the importance of helping others to break down the barriers to a college education.  My husband is also a donor and is so understanding and supportive of the students who face challenges to postsecondary education.”

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Finding Will

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I am busy. That’s my attitude most of the time. I am just too busy to solve the world’s problems. I am in the stage of life where balance between life, family, and work is key. I literally have no time. Besides, I am just me, one person, what can I do. I am sure you find yourself with the same sentiment at times.

Then, I sat through what I like to call “the indoctrination of Doug Curry.” Have you met him? Have you ever heard him talk about young people? He inspires you to put aside your own expectations or judgments. He talks about chance encounters and how to influence our young citizens. He has a plan to ensure all students are pestered until they create a plan for life after high school. So, now, wherever I go, I ask young adults, “What’s your plan?”

Doug and Dr. Dana West started this movement, and now I cannot stop asking the question. One day, an unsuspecting sacker at United, whom I will call Will, was just minding his own business. I asked him where he went to school, he said, “Tascosa, I’m a Rebel.” He said that in a way that let me know it wasn’t just his mascot, but perhaps a way of life.

Then I released the hounds, “What’s your plan after high school, Will?”

He stuttered and spurted and finally let it out: “I’m an artist, I don’t think school is for me.”

“Really? I have a ton of friends who are artists, and they all went to school,” I replied.

“Yeah, I don’t like people telling me what to do when it comes to art,” Will said back.

It was clear that I was dealing with the typical thoughts of teenagers, who today have a lot of pressure on them. “You know graphic artists are very talented, and they do really important work. The process of school will not make you lose your artistic expression, but more like unearth all the talent that’s within you. Amarillo College and WT both have great programs for artists,” I explained. Continue reading

#WHYACE: For the Peeples

Blog_headerThis week we are visiting with the 2015 Council of Chief State Officers Teacher of the Year, Ms. Shanna Peeples. CCSO Teacher of the Year is the oldest most prestigious national accolade of its kind. Since receiving the award, Peeples since spent the past year traveling the globe as an ambassador for education.

Peeples is a graduate of West Texas A&M University, an ACE network university, and an AP English teacher at one of our ACE schools, Palo Duro High School. We are delighted to interview Shanna and capture her thoughts on ACE.

AAF: So Shanna, as an award-winning educator, what do you see ACE doing for your students?

Peeples: I am grateful that ACE has an attendance requirement because research strongly supports the correlation between a student just being in school and that student’s probability of graduating. It’s hard to overstate how much low-income students struggle with the demands of helping their families pay the bills. These demands can take the shape of time spent caring for siblings or other family members while the parent or guardian is at work, or in the form of work to help pay household bills. Or both. Those who are blessed with not having to make the choice between these kinds of demands and school attendance may have a hard time understanding the pressures faced by students who grow up in poverty. For many high school students in poverty, life is a constant cost-benefit analysis: what is worth more? Keeping my family on track or going to school today? ACE, in a very concrete sense, helps students see the benefits of education.

AAF: You’ve done a ton of traveling over the last year advocating for education. In your travels, have you recognized or heard about programs similar to ACE?

Peeples: I’ve not heard about programs similar to ACE in the way it is so broad-based and open to so many students.

AAF: One of the belief statements of AISD is that “education is the equalizer in our society and that our schools can and should provide a culture of hope for all children.” How do you see ACE contributing to that belief statement for students?

Peeples: Here’s the thing: hope is not an abstraction. Hope is built by the actions and the attitudes around us. That’s how I translate the belief statement. The use of the word “can” implies that what we do every day in our classrooms builds hope. And the word “should” means that it’s a moral decision to create that hope. What we choose to do or what we choose to neglect has consequences. This foundation of hope depends on our community to reflect the message to every child that they matter, that they have value, and that we expect them to take their places in our neighborhoods as citizens. ACE contributes to the belief with a solid plan for every student to meet those expectations in the way of financial help for college.

AAF: What do you wish our community knew about ACE?

Peeples: I want Amarillo to be proud of the fact that we have programs like ACE that are just plain smart economics. For every dollar we invest in education, we get triple in return, according to data from California State University. College graduates not only return millions of dollars to the state, but they tend to be healthier, have more stable relationships, and volunteer at higher rates – all quality of life indicators that make a city attractive to outside investors.

AAF: Triple the return, we’ll conclude on that note. It’s been an honor, we appreciate you taking the time to speak with us.

Peeples: Thank you for letting me speak about a subject I love: education!

That is all for this week. Join us next week, on the eve of AISD graduation, as we conclude our series with the voices of ACE students past and present.

Till next week!

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#WHY ACE: They’re Already Winners

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The Evolution of ACE on WT’s Campus

Kyle Moore, Director of Admissions at West Texas A&M University (WT), is perhaps the largest advocate of ACE we have met thus far in our blog series. And, no, he was not an ACE student nor is he compensated for giving ACE promotional pitches, but he does so on a regular basis and we wanted to figure out why.

Upon meeting Mr. Moore and thanking him for agreeing to talk about ACE with us, he immediately divulges, “No, thank you. I am pleased to talk about ACE and how it has increased in scope as well as quality in regards to the type of students it delivers.”

Flattered to say the least, we push for more insight from Moore.

“Previously,” Moore affirms, “ACE used to be a label if you will, indicating to professors that ACE students may require more one-on-one help, more mentorship. But that is not the case anymore. Professors now ask for and look forward to having ACE students in their classes because they are coming to college more prepared than the average student.”

Moore proceeds further with his compliments of ACE by stating, “In admissions we look forward to hiring ACE graduates. They understand deadlines, they have an incredible work ethic, and they are eloquent and polished.”

And we think Moore sums up “the ACE student” perfectly when he says: “ACE students are already winners. They overcome a lot of barriers to get to college, and that confidence instilled in overcoming those barriers gives them a momentum and progression to continue succeeding in college. ACE students are not students who couldn’t get to college without AAF’s support, they have that drive within them. They are going to college and excelling in college because of the preparation AAF’s support has given them.” Continue reading

#WHYACE: A Culture of Hope

Blog_headerAs we begin our fourth week of the ACE Blog series, we are shifting our focus to Amarillo Independent School District’s perspective on ACE. More specifically, we are letting AISD Superintendent, Dr. Dana West; Caprock Principal, David Bishop; and Guidance and Counselling Program Director, Tracey Morman do most of the talking.

Like good reporters we did some research on AISD’s mission and belief statements beforehand. Belief statement No. 2 immediately stood out: “We believe that education is the equalizer in our society and that our schools can and should provide a culture of hope for all children.” Sounds vaguely like ACE, no? So we decided to chat with Dr. West to see if she agreed.

AAF: When did you first learn about ACE and what was your initial perception of it?

Superintendent West: Well you’re going to laugh when you hear this, but I was new to Amarillo as a principal at Travis Middle School and I really just thought ACE was this assembly we did every six weeks encouraging attendance, grades, and good behavior. Obviously, my understanding has changed since then. The conversation transitions from “here’s a certificate and free pencil” to “people in our community will help you pay for and achieve your scholastic goals.”

AAF: That is funny. As an administrator what would you value most then about ACE?

Superintendent West: It’s our community’s commitment to our district’s mission. Graduate every student prepared for success beyond high school. What is your plan? Your community supports you.

AAF: You’re emphasizing both ACE and No Limits No Excuses with that statement. So I was really moved to see that one of AISD’s belief statements is that education is one of the great equalizers in our society and you believe that your schools should provide a culture of hope for all children. How do you see ACE contributing to that belief statement?

Superintendent West: ACE reiterates the culture of hope in our schools by emphasizing that everyone is committed to the economic development of Amarillo. ACE says our community realizes that our economic development relies on our scholars in our local schools. In many ways ACE makes our community put our money where our mouth is to show that support. We can then create hope in our students because we have a program that blatantly displays that community effort and support.

Creating a culture of community support all their own, is Principal David Bishop of Caprock and his staff. We sat down with Mr. Bishop and here is what he had to say:

Principal Bishop: ACE is a tool that helps us build a conversation around a K-16 plan instead of a K-12 plan. If you shape students to believe going to college is achievable and a part of their personal plan just like going to high school is, you would be amazed by how much they listen and internalize that message. ACE has specifically caused a cultural shift on our campus. College wouldn’t have always been a part of the conversation here 10-15 years ago.

AAF: Can you tell me a bit about what you have done to make ACE unique at your campus?

Principal Bishop: Well we have two really special features to our ACE program that are fairly new. We have the $25,000 check we give to each of our incoming freshman students on our Freshman Walk and we have ACE Insurance Agents.

AAF: Explain to me more about these checks. What are they?

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#WHYACE: The Foundational Perspective

Blog_headerAs we have mentioned in our previous blog posts, ACE really began as a high school completion program to reduce dropout rates. However, it has since transitioned and now focuses on a culture of postsecondary attainment.

Whether we discuss high school completion or education beyond high school, the Foundation has a strong belief in the discernable power education affords. So this week we thought we would bring you some more insight into why the Foundation invests so much in education and #whyACE is important.

So first, back to that discernable power thing. Basically the Foundation believes education has visible, positive effects on the circumstances of an individual over the course of his or her lifetime. The greater the population of educated individuals within a community the stronger the community. It’s statistically proven that community with an increasingly educated workforce has a stronger economy, a larger local talent base, and a larger percentage of citizens involved in volunteerism and advocacy work. Education is a powerful tool for the individual, but even more powerful when a community of educated people live and work together.

Responding to donor interest in a local high school completion program, previous Amarillo Area Foundation President and CEO, Jim Allison was instrumental in putting ACE together and worked hard to make ACE a success. We spoke with Allison last week and he had this to say about ACE’s initial intent: “We created ACE because education fastens a community and really allows it to prosper. By creating ACE we wanted to give everyone an opportunity to go to college if they worked for it. We knew if ACE was successful it would make Amarillo unique and make our community collectively responsible for the achievement of our students.”

We also spoke with past superintendent and current Amarillo Area Foundation Board Member, Rod Schroder and he echoes Allison’s sentiments of the ACE program. “To me ACE is all about the vision building. It removes the barriers of college because we give kids the option to visualize how going to college is possible for them if they would like to go,” Schroder said.

“We start by encouraging our students to gain some marketable skills by getting a two year degree at Amarillo College. Then we use that as a springboard to help them go for two more years at WT if they would like to do that.” According to Schroder, “ACE basically says ‘We want to help you change your circumstances and help you attain a living wage.’” Continue reading

#WHYACE: Let’s Talk Logistics

College is expensive. We hear and read that every day on countless social media and news platforms. The numbers are staggering when you add up the cost of tuition, fees, books, plus room and board.

To help with some of that sticker shock, ACE covers a portion of college costs for Caprock, Palo Duro, and select Tascosa students attending either AC or WT. For a further explanation of why that is, refer back to last week’s blog, which you can do here

If you are already up to speed, let’s proceed! ACE specifically covers the costs of tuition, fees, and books at AC and WT.

You may be wondering what the current costs at AC and WT are. So we gathered that information for you.

The current cost of tuition, fees, and books at AC is $2,260 a semester.

The current cost of tuition, fees, and books at WT is $4,859 a semester.

However, ACE doesn’t pay that full amount for each ACE student every semester. ACE pays about $396 a semester for ACE students attending AC and $1,416 a semester for ACE students attending WT.

ACE pays a combined average of $783 per student a semester to attend either AC or WT.

If that combined average seems noticeably less than the costs listed above, that’s because it is. ACE only pays a fraction of the cost of tuition, fees, and books at AC and WT because filing for federal aid and scholarships is a requirement of the ACE program. The financial aid and scholarships ACE students receive cover a significant portion of their expenses, leaving ACE to supplement the remaining costs, which also allows substantially more students to benefit from the ACE program for many generations to come. Continue reading