Foundation offers full-ride scholarships to third-grade class at a Phoenix elementary school

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A local non-profit is offering a full-ride scholarship to a group of third-graders. It’s a college promise program for kids and families in need. To learn more, we’re joined by Pamela Vigil, principal of Bernard Black Elementary School in Phoenix, and Rob Rosztoczy of the Rosztoczy Foundation.

What was the inspiration for this program?

Rosztoczy cited his father’s teaching of the value of a college degree. His brother started the program in 2012 for a group of students in Avondale.

“Our family has been involved in education in the West Valley for many years, and the action behind thie program was my brother Tom and his wife Jill, who created it back in 2012, and made the promise to a class of third-graders in Avondale Elementary School.” 

Rosztoczy also said that out of the 67 students from that class who graduated from a high school in the district, 35 are now freshmen in two-year or four-year degree tracks.

When the foundation reached out to Bernard Black Elementary to announce that the school had been selected, Vigil described the school as “so honored, so excited.”

The scholarship itself allows students to attend two-year programs with tuition and books covered, and four-year programs with tuition, books and room and board covered. They can also attend college out of state. The students must graduate from a high school in the same school district they attend now, according to Rosztoczy.

What were the parents’ and students’ reactions?

Vigil said there were mixed feelings at first, but the parents and students soon warmed up to the news.

“..it took awhile to gain some traction at the assembly that we had. Once it sunk in, they were excited. They were crying, they were celebrating, they were cheering, the kids were jumping up and down, screaming and cheering with the excitement.”

She also said that after the news, she saw kids looking at colleges in Arizona and choosing ones they wanted to go to. They were also looking into what they wanted to do after graduation.

“It’s a big deal. It motivates the students, and it removes barriers.”

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