YouthPower365’s scholarship program putting money where the future is | VailDaily.com

YouthPower365’s scholarship program putting money where the future is

AVON — Putting dozens of YouthPower365 scholarship winners in one room helps you realize our future is in good hands.

Several scholarship winners gathered at Avon Elementary School's library to brainstorm with mentors and donors about life outside the valley and in college.

Yeah, you can get there from here. You just need a hand up.

How to grab that hand up when it reaches for you was the point of Thursday's exercise. Hundreds of local students have been part of the YouthPower365 scholarship program; dozens gathered for what Director Melissa Thuon calls "Minute Mentoring."

At Thursday's event, the kids sat down in small groups for a few minutes with mentors — successful people from the community — then rotated to another mentor.

The event brought together dozens scholarship recipients and donors, who were very anxious to meet one another.

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You don't necessarily need to have your life planned down to the minute. If you want to go to college, just go.

Also, once you're in college, get involved with as much as you can.

"You can sleep when you're out of college," Morgan Genelin said.

Morgan is at CU's Leeds School of business. Her twin brother, Matthew, is studying cellular and molecular biology at CU Boulder. Yeah, he's that smart. He's also president of an a capella group, which keeps him from being all biology all the time.

All about the Benjamins

It really is all about the Benjamins.

When asked about the tough challenges they face, money topped everyone's list. In 2012, it took kids six years to finish college, and only 59 percent did, according to the latest data.

Of those, 38 percent drop out for financial reasons.

Most graduate college with significant student debt, although most on hand for Thursday's event said they consider it an investment.

YouthPower365 is part of the Vail Valley Foundation, working with local youth beginning in kindergarten through college. They provide programming for about 4,000 local kids.

Scholarship programs for prospective college students is near the top of that list of programs. Over the past few years they've given away scholarships to hundreds of local students.

In 2001, several Eagle Valley scholarship sponsors began to advocate for broader access to higher education for Eagle County students.

To uncomplicate the process, a single scholarship application was created.

Their belief was that higher education should be available to every student who's willing to work for it.

Several students in the room Thursday were the first in their families to attend college. Some attend four-year universities, others local community colleges like Colorado Mountain College, and some vocational programs.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and rwyrick@vaildaily.com.