DENVER, Colo. --
Twenty-two Colorado National Guard family members were awarded a total of $25,500 in tuition assistance today at the Denver Renaissance Hotel.
The awards, ranging from $600 to $3,000 each, were presented to CONG members or dependants, based on merit and need, and will enable the recipients to begin or continue their higher education.
The Colorado National Guard Education Foundation
was founded in 2004 and strives to provide counseling and tuition assistance to more than 6,000 military families in Colorado. Since 2004, the foundation has awarded more than $296,000 in tuition assistance to 280 recipients who otherwise would have little to no state or federal education benefits available to them.
The funding is made possible by contributions from more than 45 different donors.
"This is an investment from the Colorado community to our service members and families, and we thank all the donors for all they give us," said Kenneth Chavez, Education Foundation president.
In addition to an awards breakfast, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper also proclaimed Feb. 25, 2012, Colorado National Guard Education Foundation Day. An official proclamation was read and presented.
Over the last decade, members of the National Guard have faced unique challenges and difficult times after multiple deployments, resulting in disabilities and an unstable job market upon their return home. Because our military is all volunteer, it is therefore only as strong as our military families, said Bernie Rogoff, executive director of the Education Foundation and a Korea War-era veteran.
"One of our greatest challenges is enlightening our military audience and those in the civilian sector who are not knowledgeable about our 6,000 Colorado National Guard families and the sacrifices made by these families since 9/11," Rogoff said. "Money we provide a dependant relieves a family of stress and enables them to remain part of the community."
"Without the support of the Education Foundation, going back to school wouldn't be possible - I wouldn't be able to follow in my father's footsteps," said Nick Sloan, a Colorado National Guardsman whose father also served in the same unit.
Marc Leachman, a dependent, is studying to become a mechanical engineer and says he's grateful that the scholarships he's received have allowed him to do so much more than he thought would be possible - including participating in college athletics - while also working an internship.
As the main operating member of the Education Foundation Board, Rogoff is responsible for fundraising strategies and plans to continue providing financial assistance to as many applicants as possible.
"To date, 82 percent of applicants have received grants," he said.
To be eligible, applicants must be enrolled in a verifiable college or training program, submit a resume that displays extracurricular activities and any exceptional initiatives taken beyond simply attending classes, submit a letter from a community leader attesting to the applicant's character, and provide proof of Colorado National Guard or dependant status, and financial need, Rogoff explained.
The awards are presented semi-annually, as money becomes available, coinciding with traditional fall and spring semesters.
For more information about the CONG Education Foundation and how to apply for scholarships, like it on Facebook
, or visit http://www.EFCONG.org