Medford Rotary Foundation
Our Mission: To provide financial support through scholarships for post-secondary education of local high school students; and, other philanthropic contributions benefiting youth and approved Rotary Club activities.
The Medford Rotary Foundation was created through the efforts of the Medford Rotary Club, which was founded in 1923 as the region’s first Rotary Club. The Medford Rotary Club has always made it a priority to encourage local area high school students to pursue education beyond graduation.
In 1947, the club began a unique informal student loan program. By the early 1960’s it had evolved into a formal scholarship grant program.
On July 3, 1962, the Medford Rotary Foundation was incorporated as a non-profit organization.
The bylaws provide that the purpose or objective of the Medford Rotary Foundation shall include providing funds for postgraduate education of area high school students. Such funds are to be raised by the contribution of Club members, Club donations, individual fines, Club enterprises, and Gifts, Wills, Bequests, etc., from Club members or other persons or organizations. Funds so raised will be used as cash grants to local area high schools and will be forwarded by them to the university, college, or vocational school of the student’s choice, and will be used as partial payment of the student’s fees. Selection of student grantees will be by the high school advisors with the advice and assistance of a special committee of the Foundation. In making the selection, the financial need of the student will be of primary importance, but such attributes as attitude, character, personality, and desire to learn, that will contribute to the future wholesome life of the student will also be considered. Granted funds, if not used by a student during the current year, may be granted to other students in current or following years.
The bylaws additionally provide that the purpose or objective of the Medford Rotary Foundation may include contributions or grants to various youth activities, funding of Paul Harris Fellowships and other charitable, benevolent, eleemosynary, cultural or educational purposes in accordance with its Articles of Incorporation.
The first Board of Trustees consisted of seven individuals who were members of the Medford Rotary Club. They were:
- Chris Christenson (Nu Way Cleaners)
- Leonard Mayfield (Superintendent School District 549C)
- George Flanagan (Elk Lumber Company & Boise Cascade)
- Joe Naumes (Naumes, Inc.)
- Ed Haas (Pacific N.W. Company – investment securities)
- Bill Moffat (Mann’s Department Store)
- Frank Van Dyke (Attorney and former Speaker of the Oregon House).
Federal tax exempt status was granted in 1972. Directing donations to the Foundation assured tax deductibility for contributions – a distinction made from club dues and other support that are generally not deductible. It also serves to focus the club’s fundraising so as not to unduly dilute over a wide variety of projects.
Motivation and hard work is a prime consideration in making the awards. Often for the high school scholarship chair, the Medford Rotary Foundation grant is the only discretionary fund available as a tool to award the hard working student who needs a little extra recognition and encouragement to pursue education beyond graduation. Scholarships are not limited to academic programs. They may be awarded to students pursuing any formal career program including those in vocational and technical fields.
Special scholarship funds outside the general grant program have been endowed by estates as memorials or honorariums. Examples of these include:
- Nye Memorial Fund. Established in 1979 by Stephen G. and Evelyn Nye in memory of Stephen A. Nye who was a graduate of Medford Senior High School. He excelled in speech. The Fund endowed two scholarships to students who have been active and outstanding in their speech programs. The Fund was designed to consume the principle at the end of fifteen years and has done so.
- Norris-Perry Scholarship. Established in 1983 in memory of Allen Perry and Aubrey Norris, club members who were close friends and avid sportsmen with special interest in fishing and hunting. Recipients are selected from among students pursuing study in fish and wildlife management.
- Dan and Betty Snyder Scholarship. Established in 1989 by Elizabeth Watson Snyder in memory of her husband. Income from the gift principle provides a four-year scholarship to a student from Jackson County who maintains academic eligibility. Need rather than academic standing is a principal factor in making this award.
- George Huggins Scholarship. The endowment is funded by an initial memorial gift from the family of George Huggins, long time club member. Club donations were also matched by the family to increase the original endowment. An annual George Huggins Memorial Golf Tournament adds to the endowment each year. The scholarship is awarded to a graduate from North or South Medford High School who plans to enter the field of education and is active in sports and community service. The scholarship is for four years.
- Endowment Fund. The fund is made up of the principal of endowment gifts from many sources. The principal may not be consumed but income is available for scholarships.
During the last 45 years, approximately $1.2 million in grants have been made by the Foundation. Approximately 50% of the annual grants are derived from direct donations by the Medford Rotary Club members and 50% from endowment fund incomes.
The Medford Rotary Foundation has also been instrumental in coordinating funding for major community service efforts. For example, over $400,000 raised by the various Rotary clubs in the area was managed and contributed to the City of Medford to build the Sports Park Bridge over Bear Creek and also the Bear Creek Greenway trail through the park.
The Foundation provided a similar role in raising funds to save the Mount Ashland Ski Resort until a separate non-profit could be established to maintain that resource.