Opening Doors of Opportunity
The Gates Foundation - Ross County Scholar's Fund will pave the way to a college education for countless students who wouldn't otherwise have that opportunity by endowing scholarships for students graduating from Ross County high schools. Chillicothe native Larry Gates and his wife, Mary, are helping Ross County students realize their ambitions by establishing this major scholarship fund, which will eventually total about $10 million.
The first scholarships, totaling $30,000, were awarded in April 2004 to 10 students who began their college careers in fall 2004. The scholarships are available to students wishing to attend ANY accredited, bricks-and-mortar institution of higher learning.
"There are few things that impact our lives more than a solid foundation of education and scholastic achievement," Mr. Gates says. "As we mature in our lives and careers, this understanding may result in a realization of our obligations to provide educational opportunities for future Ross County graduates. Call it pay back time, or as Woody Hayes liked to characterize it, 'paying forward.' "
The donor advised fund will be administered by the Ohio University Foundation, the private fund-raising arm of the university.
Who should apply?
Eligible students will be graduates of Adena Local, Chillicothe City, Huntington Local, Paint Valley Local, Southeastern, Union-Scioto Local, and Zane Trace Local school districts. Students will have attended their entire senior year at the high school from which they graduate or will be home schoolers who have been aligned with the Ross County schools. They must also be entering an institution of higher education within four months of their high school graduation.
The scholarships are available to students wishing to attend ANY accredited, bricks-and-mortar institution of higher learning.
Preference will be given to students who have shown the ability and ambition to succeed in college but lack the money provided by scholarships and/or financial aid to afford a college education. Criteria include economic need (no more than 25 percent of yearly costs provided by other financial aid), social skills, and the ability to complete college work. The undergraduate scholarships, renewable for up to four years, will help to cover the difference between the cost of tuition and fees and what financial aid the student receives.
Applications due April 15.
Directors of the fund will be Mr. Gates, his daughters, Nicole McLaughlin and Michelle Bertagnoli, Ross County residents Matthew Haller, Nancy Harris and Kimberly Hirsch, Ohio University Office of Student Financial Aid representative Valerie Miller, and Ohio University Chillicothe Campus representative Jack Jeffery.
Mr. Gates retired as senior vice president for human resources and administration with Philip Morris Companies in 1998. In that position, he was responsible for worldwide human resources for a multinational corporation employing 160,000 individuals in 180 major markets around the world. He graduated from Chillicothe High School in 1956, Northeastern State (Okla.) University in 1964 and joined Philip Morris in 1967.
Through the Gates Foundation - Ross County Scholar's Fund, Mr. Gates and his wife, Mary are making an investment in Ross County. "We are reminded that the average income over a 40-year career is $1.2 million more for a person with a degree versus a person without a degree," Mr. Gates says. "This is a significant price for our children and grandchildren to pay, perhaps because of a failure to instill the need or provide the means for them to pursue a college education."