Valencia, Donors Partner to Provide $18,000 Scholarships to 24 Graduating High School Seniors

Orlando, FL – A college education can be life-changing – “a golden ticket to a better future” – and it’s a dream that’s about to come true for 24 graduating Orange County high school seniors, thanks to the Valencia Promise program. And Valencia will triple the number of new students accepted into program for the coming year – extending that opportunity for 80 new students.

On Thursday, May 11, the Valencia Promise-Take Stock for Children program will award full, four-year college scholarships to 24 students who have participated in the organization’s mentorship program for five years.

The scholarship ceremony will be held at Valencia College’s Performing Arts Center, on the college’s East Campus, at 4:30 p.m.

Each graduating senior will receive a 2+2 Florida Prepaid $18,000 scholarship from the Valencia Promise-Take Stock for Children program, paid for by local donors and corporate sponsors. The scholarship pays for two years at any Florida community college and two years at one of Florida’s state universities.

“We have many children in our county who dream of going to college, and we are committed to making that dream a reality,” says Sandy Shugart, president of Valencia College. “This program will provide our children with a chance to obtain a higher education and will help them get there with the guidance of a caring mentor through middle and high school.”

In addition to the graduating seniors, who will receive full scholarships, Valencia is tripling the number of new middle-school students who will be inducted into the program. On May 23, college officials will induct 80 Orange County eighth-graders into the program, bringing the number of participating students to 155. The event will be held at 6 p.m. at Valencia’s Special Events Center on the West Campus, located at 1800 S. Kirkman Road, Orlando.

With financial support from the Helios Foundation and other local sponsors, including the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation, the Westgate Foundation, Mears Transportation, SunTrust and Wells Fargo, Valencia officials plan to dramatically expand the program – with a goal to eventually have 1,500 students participating in the program.

The Valencia Promise-Take Stock in Children program helps underserved children succeed by offering them full college scholarships. Students are nominated by teachers, principals and guidance counselors when they are in eighth grade. All are academically promising students who come from disadvantaged backgrounds: Some have parents who’ve been in jail; others have parents who have struggled with addiction, while many have been raised by single moms who are struggling to keep their families afloat financially.

This year’s inductees come from middle schools across Orange County, including College Park, Howard, Jackson, Liberty, Lockhart, Meadowbrook, Memorial, Southwest, Union Park and Westridge middle schools. (In the past, students were only recruited from Memorial and Howard middle schools.)

To further impact students’ lives, Valencia has added more leadership training and service opportunities for participating students. To be eligible for the four-year scholarship program, students must maintain a 3.0 grade point average, meet with their assigned college success coordinator four times a year, meet with a mentor 15 times a year and attend leadership development workshops and participate in community service.

Speakers at this year’s event include: Sandy Shugart, president of Valencia College; Bridget Williams, chief of staff for Orange County Public Schools; David Dawkins, senior vice president of Wells Fargo.

Guests at the event will include: Tony Ortiz, Orlando city commissioner; and Jillian Hasner, chief operating officer of the statewide Take Stock in Children program.