The money the Collinsville Educational Scholarship Foundation raised from last month's Festival of Trees effort will ensure that generations of students in Collinsville will get help to go to college.
The nonprofit foundation raised more than $22,000 from the annual holiday fundraising event, according to foundation board Treasurer Tamara Ammann, who is also Collinsville's city treasurer. Much of that money will be seed money to establish an interest-bearing endowment.
“We can truly now become sustainable and functional for a long period of time,” said board member Gary Clark, who was the chair of the 2012 Festival of Trees. “That's an important step and a big step. Another big step is it got our name out to people for them to realize that Collinsville has this — and it's a good thing.
The Collinsville Educational Scholarship Foundation was established in 2011 with the goal of providing a scholarship to every college-bound high school senior who lives in Collinsville. Based on The Kalamazoo Promise, a pledge in 2005 by a group of donors in the Michigan city to ensure all of its high school graduates go to college, the Collinsville Educational Scholarship Foundation was the brainchild of former Collinsville Mayor Stan Schaeffer and is a joint effort of the city, school district and community.
So far the foundation has awarded four $1,000 scholarships. Foundation president Kai Redmon said the added funds will allow the foundation to award more scholarships this year.
“We'll maybe expand a few scholarship opportunities for the coming year,” said Redmon, owner of Redmon Insurance Agency. “And we'll be able to look at options on how to best utilize that money and how best to make it grow. We didn't have a significant endowment in the beginning, so we started out from scratch.”
Held at the Gateway Center, the Festival of Trees event has raised money for community projects and local non profits since 1993. The Collinsville Educational Scholarship Foundation was the 2012 recipient. Gateway Center Executive Director and foundation board member Cynthia Warke said more than 845 guests attended the event, which raises funds through sales of holiday trees, wreaths and table decorations.
This year, the foundation partnered with the Collinsville School District, which helped make the event a success.
“This year we used iPads we borrowed from Unit 10, so when (sales) closed, all of that was recorded immediately,” Clark said. “And former students were involved, of course. With student council being the elves and Mr. and Mrs. Claus, that made it easily identifiable for people to know who to buy the raffle tickets from.”
That school partnership is why the foundation created a gingerbread house competition among the district's schools. The foundation will be presenting a $1,000 check to Maryville Elementary School and a $500 check to Krietner Elementary School for their efforts.
“It's a way to give back to the students, the school district and to show our appreciation for their involvement, from the superintendent all the way down to the children and the gingerbread houses,” Redmon said of the check presentations. “We're so deeply appreciative to so many people for their donations of time, money and items. It's amazing because the ultimate vision of the foundation is to give back to the community and enhance the sustainability of the community regarding making it a preferred place to live.”