Some area boys and girls will have a chance to receive full college tuition before they ever enroll.
SIU and John A. Logan College announced new scholarships for Boys and Girls Club members at the club’s eighth anniversary dinner Thursday. Provost John Nicklow said SIU will provide two full four-year scholarships to the Illinois Youth of the Year candidate and a Midwest Youth of the Year candidate from the club.
The Boys and Girls Club is a program that offers services to promote and enhance young adults’ development by instilling a sense of belonging and influence in their communities, according to the club’s website.
The Youth of the Year award is given at individual Boys and Girls Clubs. Members ages 14 to 18 can then compete for the state competition, which is judged on standards such as moral character, obstacles overcome and public speaking, according to information from the club website.
Nicklow said he’s very excited about the partnership.
“We believe we have a responsibility to ensure that nothing stands in the way of our young people trying to realize their dreams,” he said.
John A. Logan College President Michael Dreith said the college would offer a free-tuition scholarship to the Youth of the Year candidate as well.
Dreith said he was a former club member when it was for boys only. He said he got back in touch with the club when he became president of John A. Logan and heard about what SIU planned for the group. He said he wanted to find a way to “hone in on SIU’s spotlight” so he came up with the scholarship.
Nicklow said the scholarships aim to benefit both the university and the club.
“This is a partnership that makes sense because we share the same goals,” he said. “The scholarship initiative reflects our commitment to attracting the best and the brightest to our university.”
He said the decision to have these scholarships is based on the need to provide an education to individuals in hard economic times.
“There’s no question about the value of a college degree, but we also know families struggle to afford higher education,” he said.
Kristin Allen, executive director of the Illinois Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs, said the clubs make a difference for everyone involved. She said she has been with the group for several years.
“I know first-hand … what it takes to keep a club running and really what it is about, which is the impact on kids,” she said.
Allen said sometimes people lose sight of the club’s mission. She said she encouraged the community to visit the club and see the change it makes.
“Especially in these days of tight money, we spend a lot of our time communicating with our legislative leaders and state officials just what a difference a program like this makes,” she said. “When state leaders are trying to decide where to invest the precious and limited state dollars that are out there, we believe that preventing problems by serving kids — investing money in kids — is the way to go.”