It was a surprise of a lifetime!
All of the third grade students at an Arizona elementary school were awarded full-ride scholarships to college, USA Today reports.
Students at Bernard Black Elementary School in Phoenix, Arizona thought they were arriving for a regular school assembly. That’s when they received the surprise of a lifetime, school officials announcing that all 63 third grade students would be awarded full-ride scholarships to college.
The scholarships are courtesy of the Rosztoczy Foundation, a local nonprofit that operates a College Promise initiative aimed at sending students to college. Eligible students must graduate from Bernard Black Elementary and attend a high school in the Phoenix Union High District. If they do that, then they have the option to attend a university in or out of state with no tuition cap completely free of charge, Rosztoczy trustee Tom Rosztoczy explained.
Rosztoczy and his wife launched the College Promise program back in 2011, helping 84 students from the Michael Anderson School in Arizona attend college in 2012. Rosztoczy said he was inspired by his father, a Hungarian immigrant who moved to New Jersey looking for opportunity. When offered a job at the rate of $55 a week, Rosztoczy rightfully asked for more money, citing his Hungarian degree in chemistry. It was then that his father was told that the maximum amount he could make without an American college degree was $65 dollars a week. His father turned down the job but went on to pursue a doctorate degree instead.
The Rosztoczy Foundation aims to make the dream of college come true for as many students as possible, beginning with elementary-aged children. Through the help of family members, the foundation was able to fund another round of third grade students, those at Bernard Black being chosen as the lucky few.
“The kids and their parents have time to re-think their future with respect to education and then get academically prepared. We also wanted them to be old enough to understand what this means. Third grade felt right last time, so we just did it again,” Rosztoczy told reporters.
Erika Delgado was one of the recipients of the first round of scholarships. Since then, she’s graduated as valedictorian at Desert Edge High School and is now pursuing her degree at Grand Canyon University. Erika admits that the College Promise program motivated her to put even more emphasis on her studies.
The scholarships include tuition, room and board for eligible participants. Currently, the going rate for college is about $25,000 to $30,000 annually for a state school. However, that number may increase over the next several years and the foundation has accounted for that. There is no way to tell just how much the nonprofit will contribute to the students’ education but there is no monetary limit to the scholarships. The foundation is currently working with the district to iron out details for future scholarship offers that may help additional students, proposing that students meet or surpass the national average on a standardized test in order for the foundation to renew their offer.
“They can earn a college scholarship for a large number of students if they can get them to perform academically. This also greatly enhances the chances that the current kids will be academically prepared,” said Rosztoczy.
Congratulations to the third grade class at Bernard Black Elementary School!
Photo Courtesy of the Rosztoczy Foundation/Roosevelt School District No. 66/Facebook