Starting next year, the University will grant a full scholarship to a child of a police officer or a firefighter killed in the line of duty through the New York-based Silver Shield Foundation.
The foundation, established in 1982, sets aside an education fund for each surviving child in order to guarantee support with tuition payments and educational services, such as tutoring.
“We are honored to offer this opportunity to a top student, whose family has given so much to their city and country,” UT President William Powers Jr. said in a press release. “The Silver Shield Foundation has helped so many families, and we are proud to join them with this scholarship.”
While the organization has teamed up with New York schools to provide students with $20,000, the University is the first postsecondary institution to join a new initiative. This initiative allows the foundation to work with universities to pay a qualified New York-area student’s full college tuition, according to William Walter, co-chairman of the Silver Shield Foundation. Tuition and related expenses can add up to more than $35,000 a year for non-Texas residents.
“We are trying to partner with better schools so that students work and try harder to get into these institutions,” Walker said. “What UT has done for these children, who just lost their father, is provide them with hope and broaden their horizons.”
UT pioneered the initiative, granting the organization hope that it will now be easier to get other schools on board, Walter said.
“It’s overwhelming — the generosity and kindness that it took to get this started,” Walker said. “Because of UT, we will be able to get many more schools to grant scholarships to these children, and give them the opportunity to go wherever they want.”
Approximately 800 students have already gone to school with money from the foundation, or have the money set aside for when they do go, Walter said.
“We always receive heartwarming letters from students who have graduated and are now pursuing their careers,” Walter said. “They tell us they wouldn’t have had that opportunity if it weren’t for us.”
This scholarship is a way for the school to give back to those who have heroically given their lives to save others, UT spokesman Gary Susswein said.
“The foundation has a profound impact on these kids — they often don’t have financial means to go to college,” Susswein said. “It helps students get on the right track to succeed after having suffered these incredible losses.”