In front of a crowded assembly, 21 students from Dyer-Kelly Elementary School, in the San Juan Unified School District, proudly walked before cheering schoolmates as they each received a college savings scholarship worth $500.
The award recipients, from grades kindergarten through 12th grade, were among the first winners of the ScholarShare Project for Achievement and Recognition of Creativity (SPARC) contest. The winning students are receiving college scholarships through a new pilot program designed to provide scholarship money and help families start saving for higher education.
"We must inspire more young people, including students in grades kindergarten through sixth, to think about their futures. We are excited about helping provide scholarships to local students who are being rewarded for their talent, dedication, and achievement," said Sacramento County Superintendent of Schools David W. Gordon.
The ScholarShare Investment Board (SIB), managed by the Office of Treasurer Bill Lockyer, and the Sacramento Cal-SOAP Consortium, a program of the Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE), together launched this joint effort which will award 200 scholarships totaling $150,000 throughout Sacramento County.
"I'm thrilled to be able to award these deserving students with scholarships and to provide them and their families an opportunity to start saving for college," said Treasurer Lockyer. "Higher education is becoming an increasingly important pathway to a good job and solid future, and every student who works hard and achieves deserves the opportunity to obtain a college degree."
On hand to praise the students and award scholarships were Deputy State Treasurer Steve Coony, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell, Superintendent Gordon, Assemblyman Roger Niello, Assemblyman Dave Jones, and San Juan Unified School District Superintendent Steven Enoch, who hosted the event.
"College is more important today than ever before," Superintendent O'Connell told the assembly of students. "A college education is a key to opportunity. It's not a guarantee but it is a key."
Also on hand to praise the students and award scholarships were State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell, Assemblyman Roger Niello, Assemblyman Dave Jones and San Juan Unified School District Superintendent Steven Enoch, who hosted the event.
The Sacramento pilot project is a partnership between ScholarShare and SCOE. The contest is open to students at 30 schools in Sacramento County. The scholarship recipients will be chosen based upon contests surrounding the theme "I will become..." Students grades K-6 will participate in a poster and essay contest, grades 7-9 will compete in an essay contest, and 10-12 grade students will produce 30-second videos aimed at their age group.
All scholarships will be placed into accounts, kept in trust for the recipients with the ScholarShare College Savings Plan. ScholarShare is California's 529 college savings program, which enables Californians to save for college by contributing money in tax-advantaged investments. Each winner's award will be placed in a ScholarShare college savings account and held in trust by the ScholarShare Investment Board (SIB).