Each year, Vail Valley Foundation’s YouthPower365 helps Eagle County high school seniors plan for and reach their next step through its Dollars for Scholars program. As the local chapter of the national program, YouthPower365 enables students to have access to numerous local and state scholarships through a single application.
This year, as part of the program, YouthPower365 is launching its own scholarship, which will help four students annually. While, YouthPower365 has had its own scholarships at the event in the past, the newly-launched scholarship is much more robust and will reach more students, thanks to a donation from Amy and Steve Coyer.
The Coyers have been involved with YouthPower365 for nearly 20 years — serving on the board and as mentors, tutors, volunteers and more. Currently, Steve serves as the Vail Valley Foundation’s Education Committee Chair.
Steve Coyer first became involved with YouthPower365 — or The Youth Foundation as it was called then — soon after moving to the valley in 1999, through golf and the Eagle County chapter of The First Tee. The golf program was run by The Youth Foundation at the time.
Quickly, however, the Coyers recognized the value of the organization and its programming, and they stuck around.
“When I joined it was pretty small, only a few people. We probably had a $2-300,000 budget and now we have a $4 million budget with 20 employees, but you could see how effective it was,” said Steve Coyer. “It was a great organization, it was a wonderful board, wonderful people, and it was obvious that it was having a good impact too.”
Steve and Amy never had children of their own, which, as Steve acknowledged: “Is kind of ironic because so much of our philanthropy is centered around children.”
In addition to their involvement with YouthPower365, the Coyers also support local organizations like Guardian Scholars, Walking Mountains and more, as well as providing scholarships to Steve’s alma mater high school in Detroit.
This philanthropic approach comes from their own life experiences, including those as aunt and uncle to a number of nieces and nephews.
“Amy and I have had the opportunity to go to really good universities and graduate schools and have seen what it can do for us,” Steve said. “We know education can make a difference.”
Over the years the Coyers were along for the ride, not only as the Youth Foundation became YouthPower365, but also as the organization grew its programming from early childhood, elementary and middle school into high school and college and career readiness.
For the last 20 or so years, they mentored many students but one in particular inspired them to think about helping fund a YouthPower365 scholarship.
The Eagle Valley High School student, Steve said, was a straight-A student, DREAMer and had aspirations of becoming a nurse or teacher. The Coyers helped this student not only financially achieve her goal of attending college, but supported her through school and into her career as a teacher in Colorado.
“When we saw the success she had, we thought: ‘There are a lot of people like her and let’s see if we can help some more,’” Steve said.
“As we at YouthPower365 look at our mission going from early childhood up through career readiness, a scholarship seemed to be something that was lacking, because we took these kids all through high school and many of them need financial aid,” he added. “So, Amy and I decided to make a major initial investment in scholarship money, a scholarship program that would be meaningful both for college students as well as for kids, young adults, who don’t want to go to college but want to study a trade and a profession.”
The net-price scholarship will be awarded to four students annually. Two scholarships will offer up to $20,000 a year, for four years, to two students each year who are seeking a bachelor’s degree from a four-year university or college. Two additional scholarships will provide up to $10,000 a year for two years to two students each year seeking a trade or applied science degree.
Having a scholarship that reached both students reaching for four-year universities and colleges as well as for trade schools was important to both the organization and the Coyers.
“There are just lots of kids for whom a four-year college degree doesn’t make sense,” Amy Coyer said. “We thought that it made sense to incentivize them to go to a trade school — which we want to make sure they go to quality trade schools — and then they get out of that program and they’ve got a profession.”
Additional criteria for the scholarship include that the student must be an alumnus of YouthPower365, displays leadership outside of school, has a 3.0 GPA with evidence of pursuing academic excellence and be required to answer some essay and short answer prompts.
“We want kids to have that incentive to work hard in high school so that they can be eligible for these scholarships and then work hard in college to maintain these scholarships. It’s really geared toward high achievement kids,” Amy Coyer said.
This scholarship — as Steve put it, “isn’t the Amy and Steve Coyer Scholarship Fund.”
“I don’t really want it to be a personal endeavor of ours but we’re happy to help start it. I expect we’ll be able to grow it into a multi-million dollar fund at some point where we’ll hopefully be doing, at some point, a dozen scholarships a year,” Steve said. “It’s just a start, but it’s a meaningful start and we’re super excited about it.”
In addition to the Coyers leading the scholarship’s funding effort, additional financial support is coming from the Vail Valley Foundation. According to Amy Vogt, marketing manager at the Vail Valley Foundation, the organization has secured enough funds to cover the scholarship for the next four years.
“We intend to continue seeking financial support so that the scholarship can serve students for decades,” Vogt said.
While the organization has had YouthPower365 scholarships in the past, they have been distributed to fewer students and for a much smaller amount, Vogt said. In 2021, it gave two $5,000 scholarships.
“The ‘dream’ was to have a scholarship like the YouthPower365 Scholarship now being offered, but it was not possible until our generous individual donors stepped up and made it a reality,” Vogt said. “This much more robust iteration will be the YouthPower365 Scholarship moving forward.”
Dollars for Scholars
This newly funded scholarship will be a part of YouthPower365’s annual Dollars for Scholars event.
“These scholarships can be a major step in helping students realize an education after high school is possible. For so many families in our community, college often does not seem financially attainable, but YouthPower365’s Dollars for Scholars program can show them that there are options available to help them achieve their education or career aspirations,” Vogt said.
In 2021, the organization awarded over $400,000 in scholarship funds to 29 local high school seniors. This year, the program plans to distribute nearly $600,000 in scholarships to 33 students.
The single scholarship application allows local students to easily apply to a variety of local and state scholarship funds. As many of the scholarships are local, Vogt said the program is able to not only support the valley’s next generation, but also to respond to the community’s specific needs.
“Whether it’s making sure that support is given to our first-generation students or adjusting the financial aid requirements to ensure that we take into consideration the high cost of living, local donors can adjust and respond directly to the needs of the valley,” Vogt said. “In addition, many students feel strongly about taking their education and using it to give back to the community that raised them. This type of scholarship helps ensure that our valley will encourage young professionals to return and bring with them a new perspective and a valuable education.”
In addition to the new YouthPower365 scholarship, the organization added two other scholarships this year. This includes The Land and Rivers Scholarship through a partnership with the Land and Rivers Fund as well as the WIN Impact Network Scholarship, offered by the Women’s Impact Network of Eagle County.
These new scholarships, Vogt said, are added annually “as the financial needs for our high schoolers continue to grow.”
The organization is also inviting more community members and partners to help with the scholarship review process this year.
“We are doing this to not only provide an equitable experience for our students but to continue to expose the community to the financial restraints of our high schoolers,” Vogt said. “We also hope more members of the community can hear our student’s goals and aspirations for life after high school.”
Reporter Ali Longwell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.