Invest In Education, Invest In Community
Editor’s Note: The Chautauqua Region Community Foundation is commemorating its 40th anniversary this year. Throughout the year, the foundation is highlighting 40 stories that are indicative of the impact foundation-funded programs and initiatives have had on the community. This week features gifts to the Chautauqua Educational Opportunity Scholarship.
Since 2002, the Chautauqua Educational Opportunity (CEO) Scholarship at the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation has provided nearly $230,000 in scholarship awards to more than 150 students from our community.
The CEO scholarship program was established to provide financial assistance for deserving Jamestown High School graduates attending Jamestown Community College or Jamestown Business College.
“The program was designed to provide support to students who are identified as having potential for success in college, but may also have obstacles that could keep them from achieving that goal,” explained Mike McElrath, Jamestown High School principal.
Throughout the year, members of the CEO Scholarship committee meet to review new applicants recommended by school representatives and monitor the progress of current students.
CEO recipients are eligible to receive renewable awards ranging from $500 to $1,000 per year for books, tuition or other college expenses. To renew their award, students must continue demonstrating strong motivation and work ethic by maintaining a certain GPA each semester.
“I believe the CEO program has an immediate effect on the community, but it can also have lasting effects as we provide these students a college opportunity,” stated Tammy Smith, Director of the Counseling and Career Center at JCC and CEO committee member.
Ashley Carlson, 2002 JHS graduate, was one of the first recipients of the inaugural CEO Scholarship as a freshman attending JCC. Carlson went on to obtain her Bachelor’s degree in English Education and Master’s degree in Education Specializing in Adolescent Literacy and Technology (6-12) from Buffalo State College.
“In high school I was never an ‘A’ student, being provided the opportunity to attend JCC and receiving the CEO scholarship award proved that I had the capability to push myself harder than I had before,” stated Carlson. “One of my biggest achievements while at Buffalo State College was being accepted into the Kappa Delta Pi, International Honor Society in Education.”
Currently, Carlson is a 10th and 12th grade English Teacher at Westfield Academy and Central School, where she also serves as a Student Government Advisor and Curriculum Coordinator.
“The opportunity to attend college was a driving force for me to pursue bigger and better dreams,” Carlson said.
In 2014, following the closing of the Joint Neighborhood Project a new scholarship fund was created to supplement the efforts of the existing CEO program. The new fund increased scholarship awards and expanded the CEO program’s reach to benefit not only JHS graduates but Jamestown residents looking to further their education at JCC or JBC.
One of the first recipients of the Joint Neighborhood Project CEO Scholarship was Daphne Crawford. Crawford, 2012 JHS graduate, obtained her Associate’s degree in Accounting and a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration/Management from JBC.
“Growing up my parents did everything they could for my brother and I, though we struggled financially,” stated Crawford. “Receiving the CEO Scholarship provided support for my college expenses and helped me to become the first in my family to graduate college.”
Today, Crawford is employed by Career Systems Development at Chautauqua Works as a Career Specialist where she assists unemployed individuals with job applications, resume preparation, interview skills and securing financial assistance for training programs or to complete college courses.
“My degree allows me to do something I am passionate about, helping others in our community,” Crawford said. “Attending college has helped me realize the harder you work for something, the greater you feel when you achieve it.”
For 40 years, the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation has worked together with its inspiring donors, selfless volunteers and grateful community organizations to share their stories for enriching the quality of life for all who live here.
A gift to the Foundation adds another chapter in our community’s unending story.
Learn more at crcfonline.org.