The Scioto Foundation celebrates the fifteen-year anniversary of its UCAN program this fall, commemorating a number of significant achievements in its goals of helping area students plan, prepare and pay for college and spreading awareness of the progress made by the various aspects of the program.
Launched 2008, the vision of the Scioto Foundation’s staff and five-member Board of Governors in establishing UCAN, the first program of its kind in Ohio Appalachia, was to make it possible for every student in Scioto County to attend the college or university of his or her choice, according to Kim Cutlip, SF Executive Director.
Now at the 15 – year mark of UCAN, Kim Cutlip, Scioto Foundation Executive Director, recently made a major announcement to school guidance counselors and administrators that the foundation will offer an increase of $15,000 to its $25,000 challenge grants for the Scioto County school systems’ UCAN Endowment Funds invested at the foundation for the 2022/2023 school year. The new $40,000 challenge grant total celebrates the 15-year growth of the UCAN (University/College Access Network) program. All donations to Scioto County UCAN Funds from September 1 through August 31 will be matched. The match ratio will depend upon the amount of donations received.
In addition, the Foundation will offer a 1:1 match up to $2,000 to six UCAN Neighbor schools in the surrounding area during the 2022/2023 school year.
The Foundation’s goals for UCAN, as stated originally, were to increase the number of students from Scioto County attending and completing college, raise the educational attainment levels of the community and improve the quality of life for the residents of this area, said Cutlip.
The innovative UCAN initiative is a network of partners dedicated to providing financial assistance to every Scioto County student who wants to go to college. Participants in the area-wide effort were all 12 Scioto County school districts, the South Central Ohio Educational Service Center, local businesses, committed volunteers and individual donors.
Sharee Price, Gifted Program Coordinator at the South Central Ohio Education Service Center, recalls the early days of the UCAN program.
“I remember when I was new in my job at the ESC sixteen years ago, and I sat down with Kim and a representative from the College Board and we started batting around ideas for UCAN,” said Price. “I thought it was a great idea then and it has blossomed into a significant program that benefits all our local school districts (and now neighboring districts).
Fifteen years later the twelve Scioto County school districts and UCAN Neighbor schools in nearby counties, along with the Scioto Foundation, have raised a grand total of $3,254,097.53 as of December 31, 2021 toward their goals of helping area students realize their college dreams. The total raised by the school districts is $2,777,247.53 and the SF’s UCAN general fund has gained $476,850.02 which provides matching funds for the schools’ fundraising efforts.
As UCAN’s key component, in 2008 the Scioto Foundation issued challenge grants to all Scioto County school systems, offering them matching grants of up to $10,000 for every dollar raised for their scholarship endowments invested at the Foundation, each year for five years.
The Foundation’s UCAN project has worked to achieve three other major elements: support for local school districts in establishing or expanding AP class offerings, the establishment of a centralized scholarship database for Scioto County students and parents and the formation of a marketing campaign focused on the importance of saving for college.
Since the inception of the UCAN program, the eighteen member school systems have awarded scholarships totaling $789,910 to 955 students. In addition, the Scioto Foundation has given the UCAN member schools 162 mini-grants totaling $228,372 for college preparedness activities and helped to cover the cost of training 147 Advanced Placement teachers for 3,583 students who have taken 4,916 AP courses. The Scioto Foundation has also funded ACT boot camps in math and science for students in the area schools and sponsored an annual College Night since 2010 until it was cancelled by the Covid19 pandemic in 2020.
Adding to the assistance and services the UCAN Program provides for area students, the Scioto Foundation brought Christy Wilcox on its staff in 2019 to serve as UCAN College Advisor. She helps students plan, prepare and find resources to pay for postsecondary education. Based upon school specific requests, these objectives are accomplished through individual or group student meetings, presentations and possibly parent meetings. Wilcox works primarily with junior and senior students in local and regional schools.
SF’s UCAN (University/College Access Network) Internship Program was launched in the summer of 2017. It is designed to offer college sophomores, juniors, seniors and recent graduates the opportunity to take part in a meaningful career-related work experience; provide students
with first-hand knowledge of Scioto County’s public sector, its role within, importance to and impact within the community; assist local nonprofits with short-term projects and expose the students to career paths available within nonprofits and governmental agencies. To date, the Scioto Foundation has sponsored 41 internships for local students in the past five years.
“With a 30-year history of giving and managing scholarships, the Scioto Foundation has been acutely aware of the rising costs of a college education, the keen competition for scholarship awards, the need for more Advanced Placement courses and the necessity for increased personal savings for college at an early age,” Cutlip said. “The Foundation created the UCAN Plan to address those challenges.”