Non-profit provides scholarships to 24 Collier County students

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A Southwest Florida organization believes determined students shouldn’t be unable to follow their dreams because they can’t afford their tuition.

Since the inception of the Founders Fund in 1991 by Club Pelican Bay golf members, more than 700 students have been awarded more than $4 million in scholarships, and this year they saw a greater need for that financial support.

“In the 29-year history of the Founders Fund, the need for scholarship assistance for high school graduates has never been so great due to COVID-19,” said Adam Crescenzi, chairman of the Founders Scholarship Fund Board.

The virus prevented the Founders Fund, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, from holding their biggest annual fundraiser for their scholarship program, but thanks to donations from club members and local businesses stepping up, they awarded scholarships to 24 Southwest Florida students from the class of 2020, for a total of $240,000 in renewable scholarships so these students could take the next step toward their career dreams.

“This scholarship has opened the door for me and it will give me a great opportunity to attend Florida Gulf Coast University in the fall,” said Immokalee High School scholarship recipient Natalia Garcia-Lopez.

In the first-ever virtual scholarship ceremony for the Founders Fund, recipients took turns sharing how they plan to use this opportunity.

“My goal is to become a surgeon, cardiovascular surgeon, and hopefully one day travel the world and help those countries that aren’t able to actually have the medical assistance that we have in America,” said Lorenzo Walker student Widjinalie Palissier.

“I hope to one day became a nurse or a physician’s assistant to help those around me,” said St. John Neumann recipient Elise Bouchard.

“I would like to work as a consultant on creating sustainable infrastructure in cities,” said Lely High School student Taite Miller.

WINK News reporter Melinda Lee shares more goals from the 2020 scholarship recipients in the video above.

For more information about scholarships or sponsorships, contact Stacy Lee-Williams at 239-593-0124 or visit

2020 scholarship recipients

  • Barron Collier High: Michelle Cardenas- Arias, Adelyne Olson
  • Community School: Raquel Ferreira
  • Golden Gate High: Alaysha Greene, Reuben Delgado Rosa, Nicanor Etienne, Cherlande Cheribin, Nehemie Cyriaque
  • Gulf Coast High: Alejandro Hernandez
  • Immokalee High: Alex Soriano, Natalia Garcia-Lopez
  • Lely High: Taite Miller, Wood Lindor
  • Lorenzo Walker: Isis Roque-Perez, Emisael Vega-Avila, Widjinalie Palissier
  • Naples High: Elizabeth Orstad, Olivia Saguto, Grace Williams, Daniela Bendo, Maria Cuellar
  • St. John Neumann: Elise Bouchard, Julia Hofacker
  • Club Pelican Bay: Roberto Reyes

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