A local scholarship program that aims to keep students in local colleges is coming off a successful fundraising dinner. The Jacksonville Promise is just $3,725 away from its $120,000 fundraising goal for 2021.
Dr. Charles Sheaff says the Evening of Promise Dinner recently held at Hamilton’s was an enormously successful event and he believes the group will reach its goal by the end of the year: “I’m hopeful and actually fairly confident that we will reach our goal. There are a number of donors that donate to us annually that haven’t made a donation yet this year. I’m hoping they respond to the letter that we sent out about the Evening of Promise, and our fundraising drive asking that they close out their donation just before the end of December so that we will hit our goal. I’m not planning to do another fundraiser or another emailing drive. We will probably just put out Facebook notices about how fundraising is progressing, but we are within three-and-a-half thousand of our goal. I think we are somewhere over $116,000 for the year in total.”
Sheaff says that the fundraising goal would also cover some minor expenses, but over 90% goes towards covering all of the scholarships. He says the Tracy Family Foundation covers most all of the group’s operational costs. In total, the Evening of Promise dinner raised approximately $15,000.
During remarks at the dinner, Sheaff noted that fundraising efforts really didn’t begin until 5 weeks ago due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since its inception in the Fall of 2016, the Jacksonville Promise has grown from 17 scholarships of $2,000 each to 41 scholarships of $3,750 each. According to Sheaff, Illinois College has provided statistics to the group showing from 2013 to 2020, there was an increase in the number of local students by 8 per year beginning in 2016 when the scholarship program started.
Sheaff says that the group is currently working on securing a restricted endowment from the Million Estate that used to go to MacMurray College. Sheaff says the endowment funds will be yet another piece to the scholarship fund.
Last year, Jacksonville Promise expanded qualifications to all schools in Morgan County in order to keep more students local.