Published On: Tue, Jun 21st, 2011

When times are tough, some dig deeper

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By Skip Sheffield

BOCA RATON — Times are tough, but there are some bright spots right here in Boca Raton.

At the recent annual awards reception at Royal Palm Yacht Club, the George Snow Scholarship Fund gave out a record $433,000 to 63 deserving Florida scholars.

It began with a tragedy: the 1980 helicopter crash that took the life of teacher-turned builder-developer George Snow.

Nearly 30 years later, the George Snow Scholarship Fund has become part of the very fabric of the city of Boca Raton and its youth. Through good times and bad the scholarship fund has grown under the leadership of Tim Snow, George’s eldest son, who with brother Jeff and sisters Lisa and Jennifer founded the fund in 1982 to perpetuate the memory of their father.

The George Snow Scholarship Fund is now one of the largest sources of educational grants in Palm Beach County.  The fund is a broad-based consortium of individuals, businesses and charitable organizations. Some perpetuate the memory of a deceased loved one. Others are religious, professional or civic groups aiding like causes. All are dedicated to providing educational opportunity to youth who may not otherwise be able to seek higher education.

Not only does the George Snow Scholarship Fund give out monetary grants, it provides scholars with a backpack loaded with useful goodies, including an HP laptop computer.

Furthermore, the fund’s management and volunteers provide moral support, guidance and advice to its scholars, many of whom are leaving home for the first time.

The Snow Scholarship Fund has become so successful in it mission that they now administer scholarships for many individuals, organizations and corporations.

One such organization is PROPEL, which for the first time awarded scholarships to three deserving, needy students.

“Tim Snow and his staff have the know-how and experience to expedite the process,” says PROPEL executive director Tolliver Miller. “Most small non-profits just don’t have the staff to do such a good a job. There are additional benefits for our kids, because George Snow Scholarship Fund is a year-round resource for education, funding opportunities and practical advice.”

Miller is the sole paid employee of PROPEL, which ministers to 65 or so disadvantaged and at-risk youth in Palm Beach and northern Broward Counties. Through George Snow Scholarship Fund, PROPEL awarded three scholarships to Tyrone Brooks, a junior at Florida A&M University; Kenneth Stephens, a sophomore at Bethel (MN) University, and Joselito Rivera, an incoming student at Florida Barber Academy.

Tyrone Brooks is a classic example of a bright, underprivileged youth who has overcome obstacles to earn the education many take for granted. Brooks, now 23, grew up in the Pearl City section of Boca Raton with his single-parent mother. He worked while attending Palm Beach State College and Tallahassee Community College. Now he has the luxury of being a full-time student.

“The way the scholarship is set up, it can help with my rent too,” says Brooks. “I feel blessed. The laptop will come in real handy too.”

Many of the Snow Scholarship recipients have similar stories, but not all are from disadvantaged or single-parent homes. Some scholarships are set up for specific subjects or interests, such as medicine, banking, law or music. This year, Carly Gordon received two scholarships from musical organizations to help with her considerable expenses at Eastman School of Music in New York.

This year, Ben Carter became the first recipient of a $10,000 George Snow Graduate School Scholarship to help him complete his doctorate of veterinary medicine degree.

“I have been working in veterinary clinics ever since high school,” Carter told the audience of more than 300. “I will continue to work while attending the University of Florida graduate school. Work is what I do. I hope to return to Boca Raton when I get my degree and either go to work at a clinic or start one of my own. If it were not for George Snow Scholarships, I wouldn’t be where I am now.”

The George Snow Scholarship Fund is located at 1860 N. Dixie Highway, Boca Raton. Call 561-347-6799 or visit www.scholarship.org.

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