July 9, 2021

An important part of our mission is to support graduating seniors as they enter into the post-high school education track.  We had wanted to add a scholarship to our programs for a long time and in 2020 we accomplished that goal through our Launch Entrepreneurial Scholarship.  THIS IS A STORY ABOUT HOW YOUR DONATIONS WORK TO SUPPORT OUR ISLAND COMMUNITY.

Offered to seniors at a Merritt Island High School, this program is focussed on assisting seniors to prepare for a future as an entrepreneur.  That can take many forms – auto mechanic or barber , welder or lawyer, physician or teacher.  Our criteria include submitting an essay telling our selection committee about the steps the student has taken to prepare for this career.  A 4.o GPS is NOT required; we encourage the not so traditional scholarship applicant.

What a wonderful surprise when applications started coming in!  These young women and men had worked HARD, were focussed and enthusiastic about their futures.  This year all applicants stood out in their own way.  Of course most had some (or a LOT) of AP classes and a great GPA, however, that was not the most impressive part of their application.

One volunteered regularly on mission trips.  Another had begun her own business “upscaling” used clothing for the college crowd.  Some worked 20 to 30 hours per week in addition to everything else.  Several were bilingual.  Accomplishments in sports, exceptional singing voices, playing musical instruments, participating in drama.  Volunteering with younger kids was common whether reading or teaching.  Exceptional ability with  building robots was one of the more unusual skills.

I could go on and on – these kids were unbelievably talented as a group and individually. My job was to present the applications in a “blind” manner, no one on the committee would know who the applicant was. I quickly began to worry that we were going to have a very difficult time choosing just 2 scholarship recipients!

After intense discussions, our  Board decided to award 7 scholarships of $1,000.00 each!  What a wonderful way to celebrate these hard working youth.  We invited the “finalists” to a meeting in June and shared our plan with 7 happy recipients and parents.  It was a delight to finally meet these young people and share how excited we were that our DONORS had made these scholarships possible.

I have often contemplated the “state” of our youth today.  We read about the kids in trouble, those who struggle in school and the lack of direction many have.  We worry about how they will provide for themselves and a family, how they will afford insurance, where our society is headed with the youth of today as our leaders tomorrow.

I wonder much less after meeting these 7 outstanding young people.  

Thanks to you, OUR DONORS, we contributed to the future of our Island in a tangible way through the LAUNCH ENTREPRENEURIAL SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM.  I am looking forward to next year’s applicants with excitement!

Carolyn Pincheck

Community Outreach