Updated: November 02, 2015
Helping Student-Veterans Succeed
Los Altos Rotary Donates $39,000 for Scholarships & Textbook Vouchers
Rotary of Los Altos, a longtime friend of Foothill College and its student-veterans, recently donated $39,000 to fund student scholarships and textbook vouchers for former military women and men who are pursuing university transfer and career and technical training at Foothill College. The proceeds were raised at the civic group's spring cioppino feed.
"Foothill College is proud of its model Veterans Resource Center (VRC) and the comprehensive services that it provides to our student-veterans," says Foothill College President Judy C. Miner, Ed.D. "It's important that Foothill College serve all student populations, but as a public institution, there is a debt we owe those who have served our country. Many have needs for support services that are particular to transitioning from military to civilian life."
Because state funding will never be sufficient to provide the quality and quantity of services Foothill strives to offer to its highly diverse student body, Miner says, the college partners with business, industry and nonprofit organizations that can offer additional funding sources to provide meaningful and consistent support services to students.
Since 2013 when Rotary of Los Altos first offered its Friends of American Veterans Scholarship at Foothill College, the 184-member chapter has raised and contributed $111,750 to Foothill student-veteran scholarships.
Foothill College first opened its VRC in 2011, as one of 15 pilot centers at community colleges in California. Today, there are more than 500 students-veterans attending Foothill College, many of whom receive services provided by VRC. These services include tutoring, counseling, assistive technology devices such as speech-to-text recording pens, and support to administer students' G.I. Bill funding and other military benefits.
To help ensure students’ success, Rotary's Friends of American Veterans have established two types of scholarships for Foothill College student-veterans, including five $1,500 financial need-based scholarships and two $3,000 merit-based scholarships that are awarded annually. Both scholarships help students pay for college fees and textbooks, and provide financial support to students who are transferring to universities to complete bachelor's degrees.
Rotarian Ron Labetich is the founder of the Friends of American Veterans Scholarship Fund that benefits Foothill College student-veterans. The fund was established in 2013 to honor the memory of Los Altos native son and posthumous Navy Cross recipient Capt. Matt Manoukian, USMC, who was killed while serving during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan in 2012.
Too often, the high cost of required textbooks becomes the major obstacle that keeps students from pursuing or continuing their college education. The Los Altos Rotary Club designated 50 percent of its cioppino dinner proceeds toward textbook vouchers to help meet the needs of student-veterans and ensure that they have access to college textbooks. Since 2014, the Rotary has raised more than $42,000 for textbook vouchers.
“Textbook vouchers are a saving grace," says Drew (last name held upon request), a Foothill College student and veteran of the U.S. Air Force. "Even with a roommate, the cost of living in Silicon Valley completely wipes out my post-9/11 G.I. Bill funds. I've pooled my own financial resources, including Christmas gift money and by purchasing used books, but it still wasn't enough to cover the cost of required books. I shared my frustration about the cost of books during a casual conversation with my peers at Foothill's on-campus VRC, and was beyond thrilled to learn that Los Altos Rotary had just made a donation to fund textbook vouchers for student-veterans like me. The timing was impeccable and the vouchers greatly needed. I am so grateful. Thank you, Los Altos Rotary!"
In addition to financial support, Rotarians have helped make Los Altos a veteran-friendly town by educating local business owners about the value of employing returning veterans and the benefits they offer to a company’s bottom line. The Rotary’s Veterans Support Committee has also provided leadership and assistance in organizing workshops and guest lectures presented at Foothill's Veterans Resource Center.
"Rotary International, especially our Rotary of Los Altos chapter, is a can-do organization, the type of partner that gets the job done," Miner says. "Many of the most active Rotarians are veterans themselves and have been personally engaged in our VRC. They know immediately how much their support is needed and appreciated. Foothill is fortunate to have Rotary and other allies who recognize this funding gap and give generously of their time and money. They change lives one student at a time."
"We are grateful that our community has joined forces with Foothill College to give our student-veterans every opportunity to pursue the American dream," says Laura Woodworth, director of development for Foothill College. "Helping student veterans earn their degrees, complete professional licensure, and compete for skilled jobs is an outstanding way to appreciate those who have served our country.”
The Foothill College community is grateful for the Los Altos Rotary’s tireless efforts to raise awareness about returning student-veterans and their educational and career needs. Your company or civic group can partner with Foothill to better serve students, too. To contribute, fund scholarships, book vouchers, or provide workforce development opportunities, call or e-mail Laura Woodworth at (650) 949-6232 or WoodworthLaura@fhda.edu.
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