Aspiring Teachers Encouraged to Apply for GiFTS

During its annual meeting, board members for the Gardner Family Teacher Scholarship (GiFTS) approved contributing approximately $30,000 to individuals from Yavapai County who are seeking education degrees at accredited colleges and universities.

“We are trying as best we can to support local students who have a desire to teach in schools throughout Yavapai County,” said Jodi Rooney, outgoing board chair. “The serious teacher shortage has encouraged us to ‘grow our own’ teachers who will commit to careers in education.”

Rooney said applications are open to high school students and undergraduates who graduated from a school in Yavapai County. Also eligible to apply are displaced teachers who need additional coursework to retain their positions.

All applications must be received in writing by the end of March. Successful applications must include written responses to two questions, certified academic transcripts, and a letter of recommendation. Board members will select finalists and invite them to a required personal interview.

The 2021 scholarships will be given during a 4 p.m. reception April 30 at the Yavapai County Education Service Agency at 2970 Centerpointe E. Drive in north Prescott. Recipients and their families will be invited to attend.

GiFTS is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization focusing solely on providing scholarships to qualified students.

It was founded more than 20 years ago by the late Gladys Gardner. A former schoolteacher in Texas, she had a successful political career in Yavapai County and served as a state representative from 1965 to 1974. She also was the first woman elected to the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors. 

Gardner founded GiFTS from her own initial endowment, and over the years it has grown into a major source of funds to support teaching scholarships. Since its beginning 20 years ago, the foundation has contributed more than $350,000 to 188 future teachers.

Board members represent communities from throughout the county. They are currently Jodi Rooney, Prescott Valley; Cory Gardner, Prescott; Tim Carter, county superintendent of education; Ray Newton, Prescott; Danny Brown, Clarkdale-Jerome school superintendent; Tara O’Neill, Yavapai College, Prescott; Mike Holder, Prescott; Lance Barnes, Prescott; Leslie Horton, Yavapai County Health Services Director; Dave “Mac” Macfarlane, Prescott Valley; and Ron Minnich, Prescott. 

Mike Beatty from Prescott Advisor Services serves as a financial consultant, and Jenn Nelson from Yavapai County Education Service Agency is the designated board appointee.

Persons wishing to contribute to the GiFTS fund may do so directly or can take advantage of a partnership with the Prescott Sunrise Lions Club, which accepts donations and processes them through the state tax credit program, allowing donors to claim exemptions for those dollars.