While the graduating Class of 2020 in Santa Cruz County was celebrating via virtual ceremonies and socially distant car parades, the Community Foundation honored the achievements of 25 remarkable students with scholarships established by generous and forward thinking donors.

“Our scholarship donors never would have predicted a global pandemic or it’s terrible economic ramifications. Yet, in the midst of these extraordinarily challenging times, the gift of supporting education for the next generation is even more important,” said Foundation CEO Susan True. “As we celebrate the scholastic excellence of our award recipients, we also honor the power of these donors and their foresight to create endowed funds to enable scholarships in this pandemic - and forever.” 

2020 also marks the inaugural year of the Jack DeBord Memorial Scholarship which was awarded to RJ Kindred who graduated from San Lorenzo Valley High School last month. Selected by an independent review committee not associated with the DeBord family, RJ is a scholar, athlete, and community volunteer. 

In the wake of the tragic loss of their son Jack in June 2019, Jim and Katalin DeBord turned to the Community Foundation Santa Cruz County to steward the Jack DeBord Memorial Scholarship. The fund will provide a $20,000 scholarship ($5,000 per year for each year of college) annually for five years to a graduating student athlete at San Lorenzo Valley High School. 

“We wanted to honor Jack’s memory with a scholarship. We wanted to ensure that his name would not be forgotten,” said Jim. “Along with the generous donations to the fund, there has been this overwhelming outpouring of love and support from the community.” 

Katalin added, “The rising costs of college is so challenging for local families. Being able to help students earn a college degree is a tenfold magnification of that education as it has such a ripple effect on not only the individual, but our community. It goes beyond a tangible dollar amount and that is the most meaningful and lasting legacy Jack could leave.” 

Currently a Boulder Creek Fire Department volunteer, RJ will be starting Cabrillo College in the fall with plans to transfer to a four-year university in Montana or Idaho. During his time at Cabrillo, he’ll go through EMT training with the long term goal of serving as first a paramedic and then a firefighter. 

“This scholarship helps me so much!” said RJ. “Thanks to the free tuition at Cabrillo College, this funding will help cover the cost of paramedic training and fees at my transfer school, which are very expensive.” 

RJ knew Jack as a fellow athlete and friend both on the field and off. Jack was starting quarterback on the JV team and RJ was a quarterback for the varsity team. 

RJ credits Jack in shaping his life’s direction to being a firefighter, “I want to help people when it is their worst day and help them get through it. Jack has helped shape me into the person I am today and he has no idea.”

For more information contact: Jenny Kurzweil, Communications Officer, Community Foundation Santa Cruz County P: (831) 332-3087 E:jkurzweil@cfscc.org

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