INK! recently received a generous donation of $7,500 from St. Augustine Lions Club. According to Cathy Newman, INK!’s Executive Director, the contribution supports the purchase of scholarships for the 2023-2024 school year, supporting new students being accepted into Take Stock in Children-St. Johns County (TSIC). The TSIC program provides low-income students with a unique opportunity to escape the cycle of poverty through mentorship, education, college success coaching, and the opportunity to earn college scholarships. Since 1998, INK! has been the exclusive umbrella agency for the St. Johns County Take Stock in Children® (TSIC) organization.
A Legacy of Support
With the donation, St. Augustine Lions Club has supported the Take Stock in Children program since 2014 with more than $65,000 in donations, supporting scholarships for 19 St. Johns County students to date. Each student can earn two-year tuition scholarships to a Florida state or community college by meeting TSIC academic, citizenship, and school attendance requirements.
“Every dollar donated by the Lions Club and other organizations gets matched one-to-one by the Florida Prepaid College Foundation via funding from the State of Florida Legislature,” explained James Wheeler, INK!’s Operations and Student Programs Director.
St Johns County public school students can apply for TSIC in the 8th grade. Upon acceptance into the program, students sign a contract to maintain a minimum 2.5 grade point average (GPA), continue good behavior and attendance, and remain drug and crime free. The program is the only public-private partnership of its kind in the U.S.
The TSIC program provides training and support for mentors to facilitate a variety of youth development and enrichment experiences, encourage good character, provide navigational support around school-to-work transitions, and safeguard against adversity in-school and out of school, among others.
Scholarships, Mentors, Hope
For example, Larry Dillahay is a member of the local Lions Club, and has more than eight years of experience as a mentor with TSIC. He retired in St. Augustine from a longtime career as a mechanical engineer while traveling around the world. Dillahay began mentoring while in college and during his work life and continues to work with young men from Pedro Menendez High School who have gained from his maturity, focused direction, and positive guidance.
His mentoring of numerous boys at the high school has included a diverse group from many different cultures and home environments. All of the students he has mentored have continued on to higher education at various colleges and universities throughout Florida.
“The Lions Club is pleased to continue its support of INK! and Take Stock in Children. We can make a change in the lives of at-risk boys and girls with our donation. As mentors, we impact our students by simply being there and listening while sharing positive conversations and direction, plus knowledge gained from careers, life experiences, and more,” he said. Dillahay added that TSIC has a prepared program that trains and helps mentors learn how to properly communicate with mentees. Dillahay recently celebrated his 80th birthday and plans to continue to mentor and volunteer well into his octogenarian years for TSIC and additional local nonprofits while helping men, women, and children in need.