Helping Students Achieve Their Goals


I want to go to college and I need financial assistance; where do I start?” The answer will send this potential college bound student on a journey that will be life-changing. Polk State College Foundation is in place to help this happen.

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Tracy Porter, Executive Director for Polk State College Foundation, directs her energy and expertise to raise funds from individuals, corporations, foundations, and organizations for the purpose of making financial scholarships a reality for many students in Polk County.

This is truly a community effort. The Board of Directors of Polk State College Foundation consists of a diverse cross section of the business community. Officers are Chair Carl E. Locke Jr. of SEMCO Construction, Inc.; Vice Chair Anu Saxena of KCI Technologies, Inc.; Treasurer Kevin Ashley of Peterson & Myers, P.A.; Development Chair Melinda Harrison of Watson Clinic; and Immediate Past Chair Jerry Miller of Duke Energy. Twenty-one Board members lead the fund raising efforts and establish policies and priorities for the benefits of Polk State College students.

There are many types of scholarships available. One unique scholarship is the Fancelli Family Leadership Scholarship for Fifth-Graders. The Foundation provides a twoyear scholarship to at least one fifth-grader in each Polk County Elementary School at the end of the school year. The incentive for this student to seriously think that college will be a reality is priceless. Their siblings are also impressed by this success, strive harder in school, and look to further education opportunities beyond high school.

The elementary scholarships are important but small in comparison to the current Polk State students that the Foundation assists annually. The growth has been notable in recent years.


In 2006, $350,000 in scholarships was awarded to students. Last year 1.7 million dollars were distributed. Recipient numbers of the Foundation’s many scholarships have upped from 500 students in 2006 to approximately 2000 students last year.

Community events that appeal to many diverse audiences, which are sponsored by private or corporate donations, offer fun and entertainment while adding to the scholarship funds. Throughout the year, the Foundation organizes the William N. Ryan Memorial Golf Classic; Wise & Witty Women and Many Magnificent Men Luncheons; Clays for Courts, Kicks and Curveballs; Wine for Wisdom; and the upcoming, Halloween- Themed Joggin’ for the Noggin event which will be held at the Polk State College Lakeland campus on Friday, October 25th. This will be a 3.1 mile run, jog or walk. Costumes are optional, but are really fun and test your innovative ability to be creative. This run will take place in the darkness of night so be prepared to meet some scary Halloween characters along the way. Awards will go to the fastest one to complete the race in each age group. There will be activities for the children. There will be an entry fee and sponsorships for this event are still available.

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Many different types of scholarships are available. Some have designated criteria, are job related, or have certain rules for applying. Visit the very informative web site at www. foundation.polk.edu or contact the Foundation office at (863)- 297-1071 for further information about Polk State College Foundation scholarships and events.

Tracy sums it all up by saying, “This job is a whirlwind of wonderfulness. It is a magical formula working for a phenomenal institution with visionary leadership, dedicated colleagues, bright students, and a genuinely caring community.”

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