Elementary school student awarded scholarship

Investing in our community’s future leaders one STEP at a time.

That’s what the STEPS program at Central Florida (CF) is all about.

STEPS (Scholarships Taking Elementary Promising Students) was established in 2005 with one elementary school in Citrus, Marion and Levy counties and has grown significantly to more than 61 scholarships awarded at 42 elementary schools within these three counties.

The scholarship provides students with the financial means to pay for their college education at CF. It gives students the incentive to keep up their grades and strive for a college education.

Each year the schools that have been adopted by a donor select either one or two fifth grade students to receive a STEPS award. When Commissioner Rebecca Bays and her husband Mike Bays heard about this program, they knew they had to be involved. “Money is hard to come by, and this is an opportunity for students to thrive”, said Mike Bays.

Upon graduating from high school, having remained drug and crime free and demonstrating continued academic achievement, the STEPS recipient will receive $4,000 for tuition and fees at the College of Central Florida.

On Thursday afternoon, the Bays’ awarded a STEPS scholarship to a student at Floral City Elementary. 5th Grader Robert Hayden received the award and was truly thankful and excited for the opportunity. Robert says his favorite subject is Math and his teachers say he is a fabulous reader. Robert says he is in the middle of the Hunger Games series of books. Robert’s dad and both grandmothers were there to watch him accept the award.

Commissioner Bays says these scholarships make a difference and keep students motivated throughout school, “it also brings the parents a sense of relief knowing their child will be able to attend college.”

The Bays family will be awarding another student a scholarship from Pleasant Grove Elementary Tuesday night at 6:30pm.

For more information on how to support the STEPS scholarship, contact the CF Foundation Office at 352-873-5808.