The single overriding goal of Exceeding Expectations is to see to it that every kid gets as much education as he or she is capable of absorbing, and to make sure that lack of means is never an obstacle. Sometimes that means making sure kids are not forced by circumstances to drop out of high school. Once they've graduated and turned their attention toward college, we see to it that lack of financial means is never a deterrent toward earning their degrees. For team members with special talent, we look for ways to help them develop their skills to the fullest of their potential.
As always, the more money we have, the more we can do. Funding individual kids is tricky, because it always has to be weighed against the ongoing financial requirements of the rest of the team.
A few years ago it got a little easier. Thanks to a very generous founding donation from Don Reilly and his son Frank, of Reilly Financial Advisors of San Diego, we established the Exceeding Expectations Scholars Program, which would allow us to help individual team members, designated "EE Scholars," to defray the costs of pursuing ongoing learning. Our intention was to provide scholarships, in amounts varying according to the need, for:
Don Reilly with EE team member Edgar Orozco at Edgar's graduation from
The EE Scholars program has become more successful than we dared hope, thanks in part to generous, and often recurring, scholarship donations from these good friends:
(While these benefactors have established specific scholarships, it's important to note that the majority of the money we use to fund higher education for EE kids still comes from the hundreds of individual donations we receive into our general fund. Those $10, $20, $50 and $100 donations have always been the backbone of EE, and probably always will be.)
So what kinds of things are we doing with the money?
Nik graduated high school four years ago with a 4.0 and a string of special honors (photo below). He was accepted at UC San Diego but the costs were more than the family could handle, so now he has an EE scholarship to help with tuition.
Marlene was accepted into a special program that allowed her to complete her first two years of college while finishing her last two years of high school (see graduation photos). She came through it all with flying colors and entered UC San Diego as a junior last fall. We're making sure that, with all the other pressures on her, money for school is one thing she doesn't have to worry about.
UC Berkeley. What an achievement! We're making sure that this special kid has the means to finish four years at this prestigious institution.
Vianey is a student at Valley College in San Bernardino, working hard to make sure she gets into a good nursing school. She's already had plenty of experience as a result of her job in a nursing home.
You may remember that this talented violinist was chosen to be one of the youngest members of the San Bernardino School District's Honor Orchestra. We've helped with the costs of a week-long violin camp in Colorado that Josh attended to further hone his skills.
This budding pianist was one of the kids who entertained us after our Swimathon a few years ago. But you can only go so far on what a financially strapped public school is able to provide, so we arranged for private lessons from a dedicated teacher. Now, Miguel is a sophomore at Cal State San Bernardino (doing extremely well, by the way), and we're helping with some of the expenses of being a student. (Read an essay by Miguel on what it means to him to be an EE team member.)
Archi, Lai, Isi Ibarra, Anthony Patterson
These three ambitious high school students are college-bound for sure, and have already banked a couple of EE scholarships. The money is being held in trust and will be released as soon as their college tuition bills start arriving.
We'll be announcing new EE Scholars every year, so stay tuned!