In its 16th year, locally founded organization, KEYS to Exceptional Youth Success has awarded 16 high school graduating students in the north Florida Big Bend area scholarships of $1,500 each.
Funding for these scholarships comes solely from annual fundraising efforts organized by the KEYS board committee and donations from individuals and businesses in the community. In light of COVID restrictions in recent years, the organization says they’ve had to be more creative in how they raised the money for the students in need of these scholarships for 2020, 2021 and 2022 graduates. While in prior years KEYS has held an annual soirée, the majority of this year’s fundraising came as a result from an online raffle during the holiday season. Baskets filled with donated liquors, wines and locally brewed beers brought in ticket sales upwards of $11,000.
Each applicant of this scholarship has submitted along with their application, an essay stating their extra curricular activities, hobbies, aspirations and challenges as specified on KEYS’s website, keysbigbend.org. This list of requirements to be met by the students is considered and scored by 12 of the 15 committee members.
The 15th member of the KEYS committee is Florida State House Representative for district 9 and co-founder of KEYS, Allison Tant.
These students have spent years tackling and overcoming obstacles that we celebrate with the awards of these scholarships. We see the promise and possibility in these young people and are pleased to help them meet their next goal. KEYS is in its 16th year of helping student with disabilities find meaningful futures after high school and are honored to recognize these students.” - Allison Tant
Awards were granted to students whom are graduating from various high schools in Leon and Jefferson counties including Rickards, Leon, SAIL, Lincoln and Chiles High Schools. Their applications indicate that the students have plans to attend post secondary education programs at Tallahassee Community College, Lively Technical College, Florida State University and FAMU in pursuit of careers ranging from photography to engineering, teaching , veterinary medicine and music.