Concentrating Focus for Results

Friday, June 23, 2017

The Foundation stresses the importance of adhering to a strategy to achieve results. We concentrate on education for disadvantaged people so that they may obtain better employment and a better life. 

Over the past few years the most expensive of our discretionary programs has been the Johnson Scholars Program at the Palm Beach County School District. It has averaged nearly $400 thousand annually and this year our grants in support of it will exceed $800 thousand (this includes our grant to Take Stock in Children). Next year, the Foundation’s grants for this program will be $260,350 and it will continue at this reduced level until 2020.

The cover of this month’s Report is a photograph of 112 graduating seniors from the Palm Beach County School District who are members of the combined Johnson Scholars/Take Stock in Children programs. When the Foundation started its program ten years ago, the idea was to reach 50 students a year from 5 schools.

The combined Johnson Scholars/Take Stock Program was in 7 schools this past year and will expand to 10 in the upcoming year. The School District now provides 2 full time staff along with the physical meeting spaces and time for the coordinators to work. Take Stock provides 4 AmeriCorps coaches, office space for all of the AmeriCorps members, 1 on 1 adult mentors for every student, workshops, and college retention coaches. The Foundation is providing Program Support which includes coordinator stipends, 10 college mentors, 1 AmeriCorps member, and other programing funding. And, of course, both the Foundation and Take Stock are providing the scholarships.

Collectively, this year’s 112 high school graduates have been awarded $1.92 million in college scholarships from the Foundation, Take Stock donors, The Florida Prepaid College Foundation and universities across the State of Florida, many of which provide scholarship matches. When the students reach college this fall, they will receive substantial ongoing support from Take Stock in Children’s retention program, which the Foundation helped fund. 

To qualify for this program students must be eligible for the free and reduced lunch program. This places them in the bottom quintile of the household income level in the US. Bear in mind that the average Florida high school student from this income level has less than a 5% chance of moving up to the top quintile of household income. 

A college degree is an almost essential step for any high school student who wishes to achieve an income in the top quintile of American earners. For most of our Johnson/Take Stock Scholars this goal would not be attainable without the mentoring, scholarships and other support provided by this program. 

The Johnson Scholars Program has helped hundreds of students to attend college; soon the number will be in the thousands. Further, the Foundation’s scholarship grants have attracted significant leverage and will continue to do so. This seems an excellent example of the Foundation concentrating its focus to achieve results. 

To put a human face on the difference that the Johnson Scholars Program is making, please follow this link to the now finished video: