Wednesday, August 31, 2016
AMARILLO, TX – In 2009, the Amarillo Area Foundation made a commitment to grow the ACE Endowment by $5 million. Growing the endowment allowed the ACE program to expand its outreach to three elementary schools in the Tasocsa High School cluster. Fifth graders attending Bivins, Margaret Wills, and San Jacinto elementary schools are now eligible for ACE scholarship funds if they enter Tascosa in their freshman year and maintain the program requirements for grades, attendance, and behavior.
This past May, 39 Tascosa seniors graduated ACE eligible, joining 154 of their ACE colleagues from Palo Duro and 192 ACE graduates from Caprock High School. Roya and Sheida Jaberiandoraji were the first two Tascosa ACE graduates. Both girls completed high school in two years and began their college career at Amarillo College in 2014. They are currently studying at West Texas A&M University this fall.
Since the first graduating class of ACE students in 1998, more than 4,800 students have graduated ACE eligible, 3,267 have attended college on an ACE scholarship, and 1,374 have earned a college degree or postsecondary certificate. Almost $6.5 million has been awarded in ACE scholarships and the Amarillo Area Foundation has helped students obtain more than $16 million in federal funding and other scholarship funds. ACE students have a wealth of resources to assist them in their postsecondary pursuits because of the dedication of ACE donors.
More than 2,000 donors have made gifts to ACE totaling over $9.9 million since the inception of the program in 1994. Individuals, corporations, and foundations made diligent efforts to provide lasting impact in the lives of ACE students and their families and also in the social and economic prosperity of the Amarillo community.
A special gift was made in honor of Robin Gilliland Weir by her husband, David Weir, to finalize the expansion. Gilliland Weir was Co-Chair of the ACE Campaign with Allen Durrett. Gilliland Weir commented, “I am so proud of our community for creating and funding ACE for 22 years. I have always loved this program because of how many lives it has touched. To educate the youth of our community is a win/win for all of us!”
For Gilliland Weir, giving to ACE was also a familial legacy. “My parents have been donors to ACE since it began at Palo Duro and set an example of the importance of helping others to break down the barriers to a college education. My husband is also a donor and is so understanding and supportive of the students who face challenges to postsecondary education.”
Another unique gift to the ACE Campaign was made by multiple donors in celebration of Charlotte Rhodes’s 70th birthday. The various donations in Rhodes’ honor allowed the campaign to exceed its goal. Rhodes, AAF Vice President of Resource Development and Sustainability, stated that the ACE Campaign has been the most important campaign in her 43-year career. “The ACE program not only supports our youth, but is a key component in the economic future of our community.” Rhodes has stated that she owes a debt of gratitude to the last 20 years of ACE donors, especially those that made gifts this summer to support the next generation of ACE students.
Jessica Harris, representing both the current and next generation of students, graduated from Palo Duro High School in 2011, received a BS in Psychology from WTAMU in 2014 and will complete her MS in Social Work in 2017. When asked to comment on the importance of ACE, she had this to say: “I am a first-generation, low-income student that has carried the financial burden of paying for my college education. With this scholarship, I was able to better my life and achieve my goals. Now I am going back to school for a masters in social work. Helping people is a passion of mine and I love to help those in need. The Amarillo Area Foundation gave me the ability to secure a greater future for myself and give back to my community. ”
The ACE Scholarship Program will continue to require public support to remain committed to helping young people fulfill their dreams of a college education and hope for a brighter future. The lives of Roya, Sheida, and Jessica are improved because of their access to postsecondary education. Our community must ensure that future ACE students have the same opportunities.
Here’ s list of campaign donors: Donors
The Amarillo Area Foundation is the only community foundation serving Texas’ northernmost 26 counties. Since its inception in 1957 and into the future, the Foundation provides grants and services to improve quality of life and strengthen nonprofit organizations and the services they deliver.
Direct media inquiries to Charlotte Rhodes, Vice President of Resource Development and Sustainability. She can be reached by email firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone, 806-376-4521.