Southern Scholarship Foundation’s mission has remained the same since its founding over 60 years ago—to help deserving young people, who lack financial resources, but demonstrate excellent academic merit and good character, attend institutions of higher education.
Southern Scholarship Foundation (SSF) was founded by Dr. Mode Stone, who was Dean of the School of Education at Florida State University. Dr. Stone, several colleagues and Tallahassee business leaders joined forces in response to an on-going problem: only a small percentage of the top high school graduates were actually attending college due to lack of money. The unique solution proposed – and what still sets SSF apart today – was to provide rent-free housing for the students, allowing them to use their limited financial resources for tuition. By removing the burden of housing costs for motivated students, Dr. Stone put a college diploma within their reach.
SSF was chartered in 1955, with its first house constructed near campus during the same year. SSF expanded and opened its first house in Gainesville in 1979, opened three houses at Florida A & M University in 1997, and opened one house in 2003 at Florida Gulf Coast University.
Today, SSF operates a total of 17 scholarship houses in Tallahassee (27 scholarship houses overall) on Florida State University and Florida A&M University campuses and provides rent-free housing to 291 students in Tallahassee (458 students across the state) who have maintained a 3.0 grade point average or higher and have a demonstrated financial need. Since college students in Florida typically pay more than $14,000 per year for rent, food, and living expenses, this program provides a significant savings to its students. Living in an SSF rent-free scholarship house, these students will only have to pay for food, utilities, cable and internet – usually about $950 per semester – thus saving them, and their families, approximately $12,100 annually or $48,400 over a typical four year college career.
SSF residents are provided with rent-free housing and live in a cooperative and diverse living environment, adding to their college experience. Each house additionally elects officers and work together on work job (chore) schedules and cooking schedules and are required to eat together as a family four nights a week.
Southern Scholarship Foundation targets the best and the brightest students in Florida who have a significant financial need and prides itself on the diversity of its students. While most of the 458 students residing in SSF scholarship houses are from Florida, it also serves as home to out-of-state and international students. This helps create the diverse community living environment that is unique to SSF’s rent-free housing scholarship program.
Special care is taken when making housing assignments to ensure each of the scholarship houses is as diverse as possible. This is a priority because learning to live in a diverse community is part of Southern Scholarship’s Education for Life. The current demographic makeup of the 458 SSF students is as follows: African American 28%, Asian 6%, Caucasian 40%, Hispanic 20% and Other 6%.
While residing in the SSF scholarship houses, the sponsored students will receive an Education for Life. These students will not only learn valuable skills from their community living environment but will additionally be given access to numerous programs and resources aimed at helping them grow both as students and as community leaders. These programs and resources include: study skills workshops, fiscal responsibility workshops, budgeting seminars, leadership training, and conflict resolution workshops. Furthermore, SSF students who want to hone their leadership skills and increase their access within their local communities are given the opportunity to enter the SSF Ambassador program. This program provides them with hands-on experience in community outreach, mentoring, and leadership.
The intended outcomes of this program are to ensure academic success for SSF residents and additionally provide them with an Education for Life. In order to ensure academic success, SSF monitors grades throughout the year and provides one-on-one counseling and resources to students who are struggling to maintain a 3.0 grade point average. These resources include time management training and study skills training.
SSF is also committed to providing an Education for Life and therefore monitors the intangible benefits students receive from the program as well. The two SSF Directors of Student Affairs monitor the community living environment. Through community living, the students learn to become leaders, how to work as a member of a team, and how to communicate effectively with individuals from a diverse background. Simply put, Southern Scholarship Foundation breaks the cycle of poverty by putting a college diploma in reach for academically successful, financially needy students and is proud to graduate approximately 100 students a year. Those residents who graduated in the Fall 2014 reported the following results upon graduating and exiting our program: 78% graduated with a 3.5 grade point average or higher; 85% graduated with Bachelor’s degrees; and 15% with graduate degrees. Since its inception, our program has served over 8,500 students and each student experiences a $12,000 savings in living expenses per year. The economic impact is incredible and the opportunities presented to our residents are priceless*.
* 48% of SSF residents are first-generation college students (first in their extended family to attend college), 52% are financially self-supported, 51% are from single-parent homes and 83% reported they were unsure if they would be able to attend college without the SSF scholarship.
Amber R. Tynan is the Director of Development for Southern Scholarship Foundation. Prior to joining SSF, Amber was recognized for her demonstrated commitment and performance in our nonprofit community as the Director of Development at Elder Care Services, Inc. While in this position she was recognized as the Fundraiser of the Year by the Big Bend chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals in 2013. She was also recently honored as "Leader of the Year" by the Leadership Academy of North Florida, Tallahassee Democrat’s 2015 selection of 25 Women You Need to Know, Golden A.C.E. Recipient and 2015 Women Who Mean Business Awards Rock Star Award Recipient.
Amber has more than 11 years of non-profit management experience and has served in numerous capacities. She has spent most of her career consulting with non-profits ranging in asset sizes of fifty million to five-hundred million - finding ways to improve their operational efficiency, while creating alternative solutions to meet the needs of their target demographic and local communities. A philanthropist at heart, Amber enjoys volunteering within the community and serves on multiple boards sharing her personal philosophy of “together we’re better.” Amber is a graduate of Florida State University with a B.A. in English and Communication and is currently pursuing her MBA at Florida State University. When she is not at the office, you can usually find Amber with her four-legged children (two dogs and two cats), hanging out with friends, or traveling.
In 2013, Barby was a finalist for the Pacesetter of the Year award recognizing her as an influential leader in her community by Leadership Tallahassee & the Chamber of Commerce. In 2012, Barby won the Top A.C.E award for Authentic Community Engagement by the Tallahassee Network of Young Professionals, coining her as the top person under the age of 40 to know. Barby serves on multiple boards and is an active Big Sister for the local chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters. Barby was honored recently as Tallahassee Democrat’s 2015 selection of 25 Women You Need to Know. She is a graduate of Leadership Tallahassee, Class 28 and is extremely proud to be an SSF Alumna.
Receiving both her Master’s degrees from FSU, she is a ‘Nole by choice, but loves all the SSF campuses with all her heart. When she is not at work, you can find Barby hanging out with her dogs or just reading the latest X-Men graphic novel.
Teresa Turner is the Director of Student Affairs for the Florida Gulf Coast University and University of Florida SSF Campuses. Teresa has been on the SSF Team since 1997, and with 17 years of experience, Teresa is a huge asset to SSF. Her real passion is non-profits and the SSF residents. Teresa is so thankful for the many relationships she has formed and the many wonderful memories she has because of the Foundation.
Teresa is an active member in the Pilot Club of Greater Gainesville and has served in several leadership roles including Director, Secretary and Club President. She is also an active member of the Gainesville Toastmasters 3019, and volunteers at many animal rescues in the City of Gainesville.
When not in the office or volunteering you can usually find Teresa with her animals (3 horses and 4 cats) on the farm, or heading to the beach with family and friends. Fun fact: Teresa lived in Australia for 3 years with her husband Fred and they came back with the best souvenir; their daughter Samantha.
Marie graduated from Florida State University and is an alumna of SSF. During her two years at FSU, she lived in the BPW House where she served as Ambassador and Secretary. While at SSF, Marie developed a deep appreciation for how much the Foundation helped her and so many others throughout college by providing them opportunities to grow as leaders and influential members of their community. Marie believes being an SSF alumna has enhanced her dedication to the SSF mission and also her commitment to our residents, alumni, sponsors, and board members alike. Marie is a sister of the graduate/professional chapter of Kappa Delta Chi Sorority, Public Relations Chair for Business & Professional Women of Tallahassee, member of the National Association of Professional Women, member of Equality Florida, and a mentor with TCC Take Stock in Children in hopes of staying connected in the Tallahassee area. She was also named a finalist for the Administrative Professional of the Year Award in April 2015.
Marie loves animals of all kinds, especially her fluffy cat named Padme and her long-haired Chihuahua, Charlie. She is a huge movie buff and likes to call herself a non-professional movie critic. She also loves to laugh and welcomes any of the cheesiest knock-knock jokes into the SSF office.
Akira Hung is the Junior Staff Accountant at Southern Scholarship Foundation. She handles all the financial aspects of SSF’s work, including budget reporting, bank reconciliations, accounts payable, administration, billing and account receivable functions and procurement.
Prior to joining the SSF Team in 2009, Akira spent over 6 years in the accounting industry in the United Kingdom & Canada. Akira is very passionate about Accounting and would like to continue her education to one day becomes a Certified Public Accountant.
When not maintaining the books at SSF, Akira enjoys snuggle with her two cats, reading Japanese Anime comics and cooking traditional Hong Kong style cuisine!
Norman Moore is the Director of Maintenance for the North Florida campus in Tallahasee. He joined the SSF family in 2006 and brings with him over 15 years of experience in residential and facility maintenance. He truly enjoys the opportunities to interact with the SSF residents, and loves lending a helping hand to his fellow co-workers. Norman takes pride in the houses and really enjoys the opportunity to oversee large scale maintenance projects. Lately Norman has thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the growth and planning of additional homes at SSF.
When Norman is not working, he enjoys spending time with his family. Whether camping, traveling, or even just a good old family game night with his wife and children. Norman has enjoyed volunteering as a youth soccer coach for the past couple of years and is now looking forward to some sideline parental cheering!
Over the 60 year history, Southern Scholarship Foundation has established many relationships that provide opportunities for student recruitment and access to resources necessary to operate the program and maintain the property and grounds.
SSF is proud of the many collaborative relationships it has with civic clubs across the state. Kiwanis Clubs, Pilot Clubs, BPW, ADK and Rotary sponsor individual scholarship houses and participate regularly with the organization’s fundraising efforts, student recruitment and community outreach.
Additionally, Southern Scholarship Foundation has a relationship with the Florida State University Foundation, FAMU Foundation, and the University of Florida Foundation allowing for donations to be designated to support SSF through these university foundations. This allows for corporate matching gifts that might not qualify directly and also allows alumni to support their alma mater and provide a portion of their gift to Southern Scholarship Foundation.
Indirect Public Support HelpIndirect public support represents revenue received through solicitation campaigns. This includes funding United Way and other federated fundraising organizations, but does not include donor designated contributions.
Earned Revenue HelpEarned revenue represents income generated in direct exchange for a product or service.Earned income includes income from government contracts.
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