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July 16, 2021 | Press Release

Boys & Girls Club scholarship program will continue even though foundation won’t

A college scholarship program that has helped dozens of Boys & Girls Clubs alumni over the past two decades will continue providing those opportunities after the dissolution of parent foundation.

The dissolution of the Fred E. Scholl Charitable Foundation will provides approximately $2 million in scholarship funds for Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Ohio members through a fund endowed by the Cleveland Foundation and managed by College Now. In addition, BGCNEO will receive annual operating funds – the amount will vary from year to year – as a result of a $1.7 million, one-time contribution to the Bill and Viia Beechler Endowment Fund.

The Scholl Foundation, created in 1997 after the passing of Cleveland businessman Fred E. Scholl, is a private, grant-making foundation whose primary mission is to support education and human services initiatives. It has donated substantial resources to qualified charitable organizations, the most significant of which have been college scholarships to Boys & Girls Club alumni.

“We are thrilled to announce that even though the foundation itself will be dissolved, the positive impacts on the Club and Club members will continue,” Foundation President Bernie Karr said.

The Scholl Foundation has funded up to four scholarships per year for qualified BGCNEO applicants, who must maintain a 2.5 GPA in college to get a renewal. The scholarships are for four years, starting at $5,000 and escalating to $8,000 during the final year of the program.

Club alum Janella Blanchard, now a career specialist instructor for Youth Opportunities Unlimited at John Marshall IT, said the Scholl scholarship “literally made college possible for me. Without the scholarship I probably would not have gone to Bowling Green State University because I knew taking out loans was not an option for me.”

Karr, a longtime board member at Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland, one of the organizations that merged in 2019 to form BGCNEO, and his wife Nancy will continue to work with College Now on the scholarship program and to forge relationships with the recipients.

BGCNEO President and CEO Jeff Scott, said, “We are so grateful to learn that this scholarship program will live on and continue to benefit Club kids who are achieving the dream of graduating from college. The Karrs, Viia Beechler and the Cleveland Foundation continue to have the best interests of our kids at heart.”

Because Blanchard graduated from BGSU in three years and without debt, she was able to put the additional scholarship funding toward her graduate studies at Cleveland State University. “I am proud to say that I have successfully obtained my bachelor’s and master’s degree with very little debt all thanks to the Scholl scholarship,” she said.

Blanchard said the Karrs encouraged and supporter her all the way.

“The mentorship the Karrs have provided me has been absolutely amazing,” she said. “It was always a breath of fresh air to see them on campus during my time at BGSU and even after I graduated they still invited me to their annual Scholl scholarship dinners in the summer and winter.”

Jayla VanHorn, another former Club member and Scholl scholar, just completed her first year at Ohio State University. She said receiving the scholarship “meant a lot to me. It not only helped me financially through college but gave me a lot of confidence academically as well. The mentoring program that is a part of this scholarship has helped me throughout my first year at Ohio State. I am glad to have been one of the recipients chosen to be awarded this scholarship. It has allowed me to discover new things about myself through the use of guidance by mentoring.”

Club alum Alexis Oatman, now a reporter with, said “being a Scholl Scholar allowed me to be the first person in my family to go to college and graduate without any debt. This program was indeed a blessing.

“I am a proud alumni of the BGCNEO, and I am so thankful for everything it has given me, from scholarship opportunities, field trips, programs, etc. Even now, in my adult life, I look back with fond memories.”