One of the primary focuses of the Okaloosa Public Schools Foundation is the Take Stock in Children Scholarship Program. Take Stock is a unique and innovative program that provides two-year scholarships to deserving low-income youth who may not attend college because of their family's financial situation. Eighth-grade students with good grades, good attendance, and good discipline records who meet the income eligibility requirement are invited to apply for these scholarships. Each student who is selected signs a contract, along with his or her parent, promising to maintain a good school record, to remain drug and crime free, and to meet weekly with a mentor. Students who maintain the terms of their contracts are awarded tuition scholarships to the post-secondary institutions of their choice.
Take Stock in Children Scholarships are only available to students who meet the standard criteria set by Florida’s Take Stock in Children Program:
- Currently in 8th-10th grades
- Currently enrolled in an Okaloosa County School
- Qualify for free or reduced school lunch
- Have a minimum GPA of 2.5
Students who are selected for the program will attend an induction ceremony where they will take a pledge of commitment to stay in school, maintain good grades, and make positive life choices throughout the remainder of their high school education. Students are monitored throughout their academic school years and matched with an adult mentor to offer guidance and support to help them stay on the right track for higher education. Upon graduating high school the student will receive his or her scholarship.
Funding for the Take Stock in Children Program comes to the Foundation from several sources. Scholarship funds are generated from private and corporate donations to the Foundation and are matched, dollar for dollar, from the Florida Prepaid College Foundation through a Florida Legislative allocation. Workforce Florida also supports the Take Stock in Children Program by funding scholarships. The State Take Stock in Children office provides an allocation to the Okaloosa Public Schools Foundation for program and student support staffing.
Program support is provided for both Take Stock Scholars and their mentors to assure that our Scholars have the tools to assist them in attaining their educational and career goals. Most of the Take Stock students will be the first in their families to attend college and face many challenges on their journey. Grants, as well as corporate and individual donations, provide funds for program support. As an agency of the United Way, the Take Stock Program is the recipient of contributions that are designated for our program. Both students and mentors are also provided with materials and activities with a focus on the transition from high school to college.