The scholarship fund closes the year-end campaign

A community-led scholarship fund to benefit students in District 209 of Proviso Township high schools is looking to raise an additional $ 3,000 before year-end and partners with an insurance agent from Forest Park to try to do it.

The nonprofit, 209 Scholarship, announced that it is working with Mark Hanson, who owns and operates a State Farm insurance agency in Forest Park. Anyone who requests a quote from Hanson and mentions scholarship 209 will trigger a $ 10 donation to the fund through State Farm’s Quotes for Good program. There is no commitment required beyond the initial quote.

April Baker of 209 Scholarship said the fundraising goal of $ 3,000, if reached, would allow the group to offer three additional scholarships for the first time on behalf of the growing organization that has recently added two new members to its nonprofit board of directors.

In six years since its inception in 2015, the 209 scholarship has awarded more than $ 70,000 to alumni of Proviso high schools to help students attend more than 20 colleges, universities and trade schools across the country, said Baker. These amounts include 51 first-time scholarships ($ 1,000 each) and 43 renewal scholarships ($ 500 each).

Baker and Ken Snyder, both residents of Forest Park, developed the nonprofit with the aim of highlighting Proviso researchers in the same way, Snyder said, as the way residents of other districts support their students.

“People understood that in Proviso there wasn’t the kind of community support to get our kids to college that there is in the surrounding communities,” said Snyder, one of the founders of the group. “While there are other scholarship programs in Proviso, it was clear that there could be more, that the community needed to step up efforts and provide more support to our children. “

The nonprofit has grown from “essentially nothing,” Snyder said, to raising $ 6,000 for six scholarships in 2015. Each year, scholarship recipients represent the three high schools in the district, and winners are chosen by a selection committee which conducts blind examinations of approximately 10 candidates per school, per year.

In 2021, 209 Scholarship awarded four new scholarships per school (a total of $ 12,000) for the first time, and Baker and Snyder said their goal was to continue to award more scholarships and more money as the donor-funded non-profit organization continues to grow.

“The response from the community has always been good and the more academics they see and the more graduates they see, the better their response,” Snyder said. “It’s quite remarkable that there are 30 scholarships [new and renewal] which was awarded last year entirely from community donations. … The fact that it continues to grow each year is a pretty remarkable testament to the will of the people of this community to be successful in their children.

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