When Emily Pantoja was a senior at Mountain Vista High School in 2014, she applied for a scholarship through the Highlands Ranch Community Association. The process was fairly simple — she was asked …
When Emily Pantoja was a senior at Mountain Vista High School in 2014, she applied for a scholarship through the Highlands Ranch Community Association. The process was fairly simple — she was asked to provide basic information including her involvement in extracurricular activities and community service.
Pantoja, now 22, walked away with $1,000. She used the money to buy art supplies for her freshman year at Colorado State University. She is now a senior studying graphic design.
“It was just one of those things going into college where I was trying to get as much as I could,” said Pantoja. “It helped a lot in getting some of the basic foundational items that I was going to need for the next four years.”
Founded in 2003 by a committee of six people from local businesses in the community, the Highlands Ranch Community Scholarship Fund has awarded $300,000 in scholarships. Recipients are high school seniors living in Highlands Ranch or attending a Highlands Ranch high school who will soon start their first year of higher education at an accredited institution or vocational-technical school, according to HRCA's website.
Picked by the Highlands Ranch Community Scholarship Fund Committee and approved by the HRCA Board of Directors, recipients must demonstrate participation in their school and community, as well as strong academic performance and educational aspirations.
The scholarship program has grown from recognizing nine recipients in 2004 to an expected 20 in 2018, according to Linda Dorré, HRCA human resources manager. Next year's recipients will each receive $2,500 — the highest amount to date.
“Since HRCA is the community association for Highlands Ranch, the thought was to create a community-based scholarship,” said Dorre, who has been with the association for 20 years. “We wanted to foster the idea of students learning to give back to the community.”
Community events, corporate sponsorships and individual donations fund the scholarships, Dorre said. The success of the 2017 Highlands Ranch Beer Festival — the program's largest fundraising event — allowed the committee to increase the scholarship dollar amount for 2018.
The scholarship fund committee will accept applications until Feb. 26 at 5 p.m. Scholarship applications are submitted on hard copy either via mail or hand delivery.
Go to hrcaonline.org/scholarships for application materials.
On April 30, recipients will be recognized at an awards ceremony.