This year, the 450 scholarship funds administered by the Community Foundation of the Ozarks will support about 1,000 individual scholarships worth $1.8 million. While those figures represent a significant investment in the future of the region, even moreso, they speak to lives — the lives of students that will be forever improved by education, and the lives of donors, who dedicated their charitable spirit to future generations.
And those number continue to grow. Every year, donors work with the CFO and its regional affiliate foundations to establish new scholarship funds through a variety of charitable giving options. Each scholarship is defined by its own criteria that reflects the donor’s passion and intent. Here are the stories behind several scholarships awarding for the first time this year.
Couple’s estate leaves “blessing to the community”
Rex and Virginia Price of Marshfield spent years of their lives living a spirit of giving — and prepared their legacy to do the same long past their lifetimes. They had the foresight to work with a financial planner to include charitable giving in their estate.
Those efforts led to the launch of the Rex and Virginia Price Scholarship, which was established by the Price’s estate with the CFO and the Marshfield Area Community Foundation. Starting in 2022, a graduating senior from Marshfield High School will receive $2,500, with the support renewable for three additional years.
“The bottom line: They wanted to continue being generous with funds and try to be a blessing,” says Craig Bell, a financial planner with Edward Jones who helped manage the Prices’ wishes and had long known the couple. “They’ve always been generous.”
In addition to the new scholarship, the Prices created endowments designated for seven nonprofits.
“It was just kind of a long list of things they wanted to bless; causes they felt endeared to in some way, or felt were great organizations to help support,” Bell says of the causes the Prices chose to support. “In the later years, when they passed away, it was just leaving a legacy with their estate and being a blessing to the community.
“They were really wonderful people.”
Corporate donor refocuses scholarships for greater impact
Mary Sheid Schrag knows both the value of education and the resources required to receive it. As owner of Physical Therapy Specialists Clinic Inc., headquartered in West Plains, she also has seen the importance of keeping talent and expertise in the Ozarks.
Those factors led PTSC to create a number of scholarships in the late ’90s for high school seniors, named for individuals who made a difference in the south-central Ozarks area where the funds were originally based.
“We’re very aware of how expensive education is and yet it’s the foundation for everything we do,” Schrag says. “Everything that any of us do is grounded in a good education.”
Over nearly 25 years, those scholarships — around $1,000 each — and donations to local education-related nonprofits built up to around $250,000 in charitable funding. PTSC moved the scholarship funds to the CFO and the Community Foundation of West Plains Inc. in 2015. This year, the scholarship funds will see another shift.
Instead of several smaller distributions, the funds have been consolidated to offer greater support through two scholarships for $3,000 each. One will support a third- or fourth-year college student studying education. The other is for a future physical therapist in their second or third year of graduate study. Both students must have graduated from high school in Missouri and be attending Missouri State University.
“That really was a driving factor for us: How can we help others,” Schrag says. “Most of us grew up in south-central Missouri and we see the needs in our communities, and we wanted to help ensure that students could go off to school and would hopefully come back in a professional capacity and contribute to these local communities. That was really important to us.”
Donation of farmland supports next generation of farmers in four counties
Students in Barton, Dade, Jasper and Lawrence counties have a new opportunity for greater futures thanks to Clinton and Nancy Schilling. The late couple’s estate is funding two separate scholarship funds with the CFO and the Lockwood Community Foundation that will serve 10 students annually with a focus on agriculture and vocational training.
It’s a legacy tied to the Schillings’ lives, as they owned a large farm across the four counties. The donation of the farmland by their estate funded the new scholarships.
“Mom and Dad were both passionate about helping those who otherwise would not be able to afford to go to school,” says Melissa Gluick of her mother and step-father's wishes. “Not everyone is destined to be a college graduate, and we need many more in our workforce with vocational training or degrees.”
Six $3,000 scholarships are available for students pursuing an ag-related degree at a four-year university, and are renewable for three additional years. Additionally, four $2,000 scholarships also are available to students attending a two-year or vocational school, and are renewable for one additional year.
“Dad often said that he wanted to help people that wanted to work with his or her hands,” Gluick says. “Whether it be farming, welding or HVAC, just to name a few.”
Eventually, 40 students from Barton, Dade, Jasper and Lawrence counties will benefit from the Schillings’ generosity every year.