about the vista teachers association scholarship fund
The VTASF is virtually unique in California—a scholarship fund that rewards hundreds of students who don’t happen to be only our own dependents. And every teacher in this Association can be proud of that fact. The students need your help NOW.
As teachers we give so much time and effort to our students as they pass through our classes, from elementary school through high school. Indeed, it is our job to promote learning and motivate them to do their best. The VTASF allows us the added opportunity to provide some monetary encouragement to deserving students, a tangible demonstration of our support.
All graduating seniors in VUSD are eligible for VTA Scholarships, as well as children of VTA members, regardless of where they attend high school. In addition, the Post-Secondary Scholarships are available only for college-age dependents of VTA members. In 2017 we were able to award 90 scholarships for a total of $40,700. Of this, $10,000 was awarded to children of VTA members. Over the past 30 years the VTASF has provided $756,225 to more than 1900 students, most of whom who had attended Vista schools since elementary school.
Thanks to the generosity of 432 contributors (35% of members), we were able to provide $40,700 this year. Awards were divided among 81 graduating high school seniors and 11 college undergrads.
If each of the non-contributing members were to donate even $3 tenthly, we could provide another $20,000! There are NO administrative costs in the Fund—every tax-deductible dollar collected goes to students.
VISTA TEACHERS GO WAY BEYOND
Vista Unified, is a diverse school district in northern San Diego County with 22,000 students, 60% of whom are Hispanic and 30% Anglo. Some of you old-timers may recall Vista as the town that gained state and national notoriety in the early ‘90’s when the school board majority mandated the teaching of creationism and a religiously oriented approach to sex ed. Fortunately, the Vista Teachers Association and other supporters of public education in the community rallied together, and the majority was ousted in a recall election.
But the teachers of Vista deserve recognition for an entirely different effort, a 27 year endeavor to provide scholarships to deserving students. It all began as the brainchild of Len Defabio, two-time VTA President and a 1994 recipient of the CTA State WHO Award. Len believed that if hundreds of us were to donate a small amount monthly through voluntary payroll deductions, we could reward and encourage many Vista students beyond teaching them in our classrooms. Thus, the Vista Teachers Association Scholarship Fund (VTASF) was formed as a California Public Benefit Corporation in 1988.
From its modest beginning, when six seniors shared $4125, the VTASF has grown immensely. Last year, $38,000 was divided among 94 recipients. In its 27 years, the VTASF has provided nearly $634,000 to approximately 1500 students!
Perhaps a voluntary teachers association scholarship fund isn’t exactly unique. However, VTASF is exceptional in several ways:
· Only about a third of the total money distributed each year goes to teacher dependents; the majority is given to graduating seniors at Vista’s high schools.
· Dependents are allowed to apply an additional three years after high school graduation.
· A $250 scholarship is set aside yearly for a graduating senior from each of the district’s three continuation high schools.
· $1000 is provided yearly to the high school for the handicapped for students who need financial help for wheelchair repair, field trips, etc.
For more than 20 years, I have stressed that it’s more important that teachers participate, not how much they contribute. A few dollars monthly, multiplied by several hundred can provide some recognition to students who might otherwise receive none at all. Several recipients each year are the first in their family to graduate from high school, and many more the first to attend college. A frequent theme is financial need, not for dormitory accommodations or incidentals, but for the very basics like tuition or books.
The teachers of Vista, like teachers everywhere, can be proud of their efforts to help their students along their individual paths. I’d like to think that we in Vista have gone way beyond.
(Retired Teacher, 2004)