Scioto County school administrators, guidance counselors and other staff are unanimous and enthusiastic in their praise of the Scioto Foundation’s UCAN (University/College Access Network) program as they look back over the past 15 years since the concept was implemented. This fall the Scioto Foundation celebrates the fifteenth year anniversary of the innovative program which was launched in twelve Scioto County school districts in 2008 with the announcement that the Foundation would offer a 1 – 1 match to schools that established an endowment fund at the Foundation. The Foundation’s challenge match would provide a maximum of up to $10,000 a year for five years to encourage participating schools to grow funds for scholarships to help every student in the county who wants to achieve a college education.
Sharee Price, Gifted Program Coordinator at the South Central Ohio Education Service Center, looks back at the beginning of the UCAN program.
“Taking ideas from our first meeting, we looked at offering Advanced Placement training to local teachers so they could get certified to teach AP classes in their own schools,” Price said. “Shawnee State University joined us by hosting pre-AP workshops so counselors and administrators would have a better understanding of Advanced Placement classes and how they “raised the bar” by allowing schools to offer higher level classes that in some cases allowed their students to test out of a class in college.”
“The Scioto Foundation and its Executive Director Kim Cutlip were at the heart of it all and continue to be now! The UCAN program teachers have been offered stipends (from the Foundation) to become certified AP instructors, UCAN College Night events were presented prior to Covid 19, school districts have built endowments enabling them to fund thousands of dollars’ worth of college scholarship for their students, ACT boot camps have been offered to science and math teachers, mini-grants have been given to help schools pay for testing materials, and students in our districts have benefited!” Todd Warnock, Superintendent of the Clay School District, feels that the UCAN program has made a significant impact on his school system and others.
“I think it has changed the mindset of how people feel about giving to their schools,” said Warnock. “Before UCAN we had a great alumni association and leaders that worked hard. They had big fundraisers like an auction that were lots of work and difficult for the alumni and school staff. They gave out several $500 scholarships a year and their vision was to provide a scholarship for every student who wanted to go to college.”
“Then Kim Cutlip and the Scioto Foundation staff introduced us to the UCAN program and its matching challenge. They talked about training to raise money together with the alumni, and with great communication and the leadership of Charlie Leonard and others, the new program was created. It taught us all a lot about giving. The alumni and school staff combined to create the Clay High School Legacy Fund, developing a good relationship between the alumni and the school. It inspired each other to give.” Warnock added.
“Now we are not going around begging for money,” Warnock said. “UCAN came at the right time with the right people. The Foundation’s 1 – 1 match helped people to see the value in
giving. People understand that it helps to encourage more people to donate. Like our community, people come together to help other people and to help the students.”
This year, through the Scioto Foundation’s UCAN scholarships, the Clay High School Legacy Fund gave twenty-five $1,000 scholarships to students. At the end of December 31, 2021 the fund totaled $383,267.84, topping all other Scioto County Schools’ UCAN funds.
“We appreciate all the work the Scioto Foundation puts in on helping the schools and the students,” Warnock said.
Ellen Shope, Valley High School Guidance Counselor, said UCAN has offered a fabulous opportunity for kids.
“This year 14 or 15 $500 scholarships came from the Valley Legacy Scholarship Endowment Fund. It started with one scholarship 15 years ago and has increased by one more scholarship every year,” Shope said. “Without UCAN, that never would have happened.”
“Paul Miller was superintendent of the Valley School District in 2008 at the beginning of UCAN. Our whole goal at the time was to give help in some way to every student who wants to go further with his or her education. We are meeting that goal; every student who has applied for a scholarship has been helped. Now we are able to help a large number that are furthering their education. It is not a big sum but it may help with tuition or books, Shope said.
“We wish we were doing more, but we are still growing and keeping that goal – still working on it,” she commented.
Wheelersburg High School Guidance Counselor Rebecca Davis, who was in her position when UCAN was launched in 2008, stated Wheelersburg’s stance on the program’s 15-year progress emphatically when she said, “The UCAN program has made a positive impact on the
Wheelersburg community. It has also created the Wheelersburg Excellence Scholarship which has given scholarships to many of our students to help them start their dream of a college education.”
Melinda Burnside, Superintendent of the New Boston Schools, reflected on UCAN’s success after 15 years when she said, “The Scioto Foundation and UCAN have meant 15 years of amazing opportunities for New Boston Local Schools. Through generous donations, the New Boston Endowment Fund (where staff members donate money toward the Fund) and the UCAN Walk, we have been able to award 91 scholarships to date for our students to go to colleges or universities. Every year we can offer more financial help toward our students’ future endeavors. New Boston Local Schools are blessed and thankful for all the hard work and dedication of all those involved in shaping the future of our students and community.”
Contributions to the Scioto County Schools’ and UCAN Neighbor Schools’ endowment funds from family, friends, school alumni or the general public may be made at any time. Donations may be in the form of gifts of cash, securities or property.
Additional information about the Scioto Foundation’s UCAN Program and other planned giving opportunities at the Scioto Foundation may be obtained by contacting Patty Tennant, Program Officer – Donor Services, or SF Executive Director Kim Cutlip at (740) 354-4612.