Juan Booth is just six credits away from earning associate degrees in biology and art from Scottsdale Community College.
A 2020 graduate of Coronado High School, Booth, 20, intends to continue studying at SCC to earn credits toward a bachelor’s degree in biology from Northern Arizona University through an outreach program between the two schools and ultimately hopes to help the plight of endangered animal species.
None of that would have been possible without financial aid and Booth got to talk about its importance last week, extolling the Coronado Foundation.
“I looked at multiple scholarships but the Coronado Foundation for the Future Promise Scholarship really stood out to me,” Booth said Wednesday, fighting back tears.
“The team showed great consideration from the very beginning. They made the application process smooth and very straightforward,” he said. “Not only does the scholarship provide students with financial aid but it introduces the students to an entire team dedicated to those participating.”
Now, even more students will get a chance at a similar debt-free education as it was announced Wednesday that the “Coronado Promise” scholarship is expanding to help 20 students per year up to $5,000 over a two-year period to attend a Maricopa County community college or certificate granting, accredited Arizona technical or trade school for two years.
“I can tell you when I was on the selection committee for the Foundation for the Future Scholarship, it was very difficult for me because we had four or five worthy applicants and we could only choose one or maybe even two,” Scottsdale Mayor David Ortega said.
The deadline to apply for the scholarship is 3 p.m. March 21 at the Coronado High School GEAR UP office and winners will be selected April 18.
“This promise is near and dear to my heart not only because the students of Coronado benefit from this program, but also because growing up in Pittsburgh, I saw the positive impact the Pittsburgh Promise had on the community,” Coronado High School Principal Amy Palatucci said.
“Coronado students are the future leaders of tomorrow and deserve every opportunity to succeed,” she continued. “Our Coronado students and community are most deserving of the support this promise scholarship will provide. With this commitment and promise, we are investing in our students, our future.”
The scholarship is a collaboration of the Coronado Foundation for the Future, Scottsdale Charros, Scottsdale Community College, Coronado High School, the City of Scottsdale and the Flick Family Foundation. Flick committed to $50,000 per year for the 10 years in scholarship funds and will match additional funds raised for the program up to another $50,000 per year for 10 years.
A 1971 Coronado grad, Rob Flick said he would not have been able to attend college himself without a full scholarship to the U.S. Naval Academy.
“My parents couldn’t afford to send me so I know what benefit it is when people that people have opportunities ahead of them but don’t have the finances to help fund them,” Flick said.
And his fundraising efforts aren’t done yet. Flick explained:
“My goal, if I can, over the next five years or so is to not have 20 or 25 scholarships – like I think we’re going to do this year – but to have 100 scholarships a year coming right here out of Coronado and maybe we can get some other schools to start following along.”
Dennis Robbins, executive director of the Scottsdale Charros, said, “The students of Coronado High School are working hard, often carrying the weight of their family’s expectations to become the first person to attend college or other advanced education. We support and encourage that ambition and want to help ease their path, removing as many obstacles inhibiting their success as we can.”
Kim Hartmann, a SUSD governing board member from 2014 to 2018, said she spotted a troubling trend coming out of Coronado when she served.
SUSD had a near 90 percent rate of students going on to some form of post-secondary education, but that number was much lower for Coronado, which serves a predominantly lower-income students,Hartmann recalled.
“It’s not so much a matter of getting in, it’s about not applying,” Hartmann said. “College requires resources, money.
Once they’re in, students from Coronado tend to finish their degree programs, she said, adding,
“That’s what the Coronado Promise is about, eliminating the financial barriers,” she said.
In addition to the Coronado Promise Scholarship, the program includes the Promise Pathway, which will support the additional needs of K-12 students in the Coronado Learning Community. To be prepared for higher learning, students may need additional academic and social-emotional support along with college and career readiness skills throughout elementary, middle, and high school.
“There’s another part of the promise that we’re also committing to and it’s one that doesn’t happen in every other community,” SUSD Superintendent Dr. Scott Menzel said.
“That is that we recognize there is a pipeline from pre-school all the way through post-secondary (education) and recently the Scottsdale Unified School Board made the decision to invest in the Coronado learning community by establishing a standalone middle school with three feeder elementary schools so we have a viable pipeline of students coming into Coronado High School who ensure our students are prepared to be successful in whatever they choose to do.”
SUSD Governing Board Member Patty Beckman said she is dedicated to fund raising for the scholarship.
“I am filled with gratitude witnessing so many of our community partners coming together to help change the lives of our deserving Coronado students,” she said. “We are ready to start fund raising because all of our students deserve an opportunity to move on post-secondary without financial barriers. It is our hope that Coronado Promise will become the model for similar scholarship programs in each of our five learning communities.”
By J. Graber, Progress Staff Writer