Jake Gorham raised $104,000 in donations to create 12 scholarships for graduating seniors in the Wood River Valley.
It’s no secret that college is expensive—the average cost to attend public colleges is $25,290 in state and $40,940 out of state. Head to a private college and you’re looking at an annual tab of $50,900.
With that in mind, the Blaine County Education Foundation will host its first Scholarship Fair for middle and high school students and their parents from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 23, at the Community Campus in Hailey. Come hungry—school clubs will be selling food as fundraisers for their clubs.
The event is supported by the Wood River Women’s Foundation and Cox Communications.
It is designed to familiarize students and parents with local scholarships available in the community. Information will be provided about scholarships, financial aid, colleges and trade schools. And the BCEF will provide a booklet summarizing college preparation tips, financial aid and local scholarship opportunities.
“This is a special event due to the fact that it is open valley wide and we are encouraging students from 8th through 12th grades to come and meet local scholarship managers,” said Kristy Heitzman, who oversees the BCEF. “And it’s a great opportunity for students and parents to learn more about local scholarships and post-secondary education.”
Wood River High School Student President singlehandedly raised $104,500 to contribute to the scholarship fund by cold calling people he thought would be interested in helping young people further their ambitions. His efforts will go towards a dozen new scholarships.
“With two older sisters I know the sacrifices families make and the struggles many go through to make higher education happen,” said Gorham, whose father John Gorham owns Johnny G’s Subshack in Ketchum. “I am certain that many of my classmates would like the opportunity to pursue higher education. Yet, because of circumstances they cannot control, it simply is not an option for them. I hope that by bringing in new scholarships maybe some of those dreams will become a reality.”
Gorham added that he was amazed by the enthusiasm of those who made donations.
“And I know there’s more out there—I just ran out of time, what with my own college applications looming,” he said. “it really isn’t the dollar amount that is important to me. I just think that every single donor is important and should be recognized for stepping up and making a commitment to students.”
Gorham added that the fair is an incredible opportunity for students to learn about the scholarships available: “Having all of this information in one place is an excellent way to get students excited about their futures.”
Heitzman said she hopes the fair will provide students with the information they need to know to become eligible for some of the existing scholarships.
“In the past I have had some of the scholarship managers complain that students do not really meet the criteria for their scholarships,” she said. “BCEF manages 16 scholarships and a few I did not award due to students not being active in a particular area of interest in order to be eligible for the scholarship.”
Some scholarships, for instance, require community service from 9th through 12th grade.
“If students do not know this, they cannot effectively manage their time to set themselves up for extra dollars for their post-secondary dreams,” Heitzman said.
As a mother of a senior, Heitzman said she knows first-hand how overwhelming and daunting the process of applying for college scholarships can be.
“I wanted all the information in one area and I have been grateful to friends who have gone through the process and have helped me by sharing tips and advice to help me and my son through the process,” she said. “Here, we’re trying to get all the managers in one room. And, who knows? Maybe in five to 10 years we can pool together and start an endowment that offers two years of paid college for every Blaine County student. Wouldn’t that be a great thing to offer?!”
Want to know more? Contact BCEF Executive director Kristy Heitzman at 208-578-5449.