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Oakley and Eva Farris partner with Gateway to endow $400,000 scholarship fund for Holmes High students

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A pair of Northern Kentucky’s most generous philanthropists are joining forces with Gateway Community and Technical College to endow a $400,000 scholarship fund for Covington high school students looking to continue their education.

Oakley and Eva Farris have joined with Gateway Community and Technical College to endow a $400,000 scholarship fund to provide postsecondary education opportunities for Holmes High School students (photos by Mark Hansel).

The Oakley and Eva Farris Salvation Fund will provide an opportunity for Holmes High School students who are serious about postsecondary education to obtain a degree at Gateway and, for some, an advanced degree at Northern Kentucky University.

Oakley Farris was challenged by Gateway President Fernando Figueroa to provide an endowment of $200,000, which the university would match, to launch the fund.

Farris accepted the challenge, which he sees as more than just the endowment of a scholarship fund.

“This is not a contribution, it’s an investment in Northern Kentucky’s future,” Farris said.

The fund was announced Thursday at the dedication of the Eva G. Farris Virtual Executive Board Room at Northern Kentucky University.

“We are developing an endowed scholarship that will help students and Oakley wants to focus on Holmes High School because obviously his passion and love is here in Covington,” said Amber Decker, vice president of development at Gateway. “Part of this scholarship will help Holmes students matriculate to Gateway, so we’ll be identifying students that are really interested in a technical program and offer those scholarships.

Farris has added the caveat that he wants the scholarships to go to students who really want to move on and who have strong support from their families.

“He would like to see that, because I think he has learned for other experiences that a support system is really important,” Decker said.

The goal is for Holmes teachers and counselors to reach out to students as early as the ninth grade, to encourage them to work toward a goal, and identify individuals that are committed to higher education.

Gateway will also accommodate an objective of the Farris’s by establishing a scholarship in the name of Becky Porterfield, the NKU Dean of Business.

Porterfield, who could not attended Thursday’ dedication ceremony in person, was videoed in to the boardroom. She was overwhelmed by the announcement.

NKU Dean of Business Becky Porterfield, who was unable to attend Thurday’s event in person, but was videoed in, is overcome with emotion at the announcement that a scholarship will be endowed in her name.

“I’m not usually out of words,” Porterfield said. “I had to put myself through college and it was through starting at a community college in Marion, Ohio, so it’s especially meaningful.”

The Gateway proposal, which includes a reference to fostering the “Farris gene of philanthropy into the DNA of Covington,” is included here:

Gateway respectfully proposes to Oakley and Eva Farris to establish the Oakley and Eva Farris Salvation Fund that will focus on Holmes High School students to ensure their successful matriculation into Gateway and completion to a degree.

Further, this fund will help to eliminate additional barriers to completion such as transportation and academic assistance.

Gateway and the Foundation propose to Oakley and Eva Farris to fund an endowment with an investment of $200,000 that will support students from Holmes High School who wish to pursue postsecondary education at Gateway.

To honor this investment the college will recognize Oakley and Eva Farris with signage on our Community Resource offices where students come to access support to help them stay in college and complete a credential.

Additionally, the college would like to recognize Oakley and Eva’s objective in honoring Becky Porterfield, the NKU Dean of Business by naming a scholarship in her name that focuses on Gateway Business students who are enrolled in the Gateway2NKU program.

This scholarship will help students who are working towards an Associate Degree in Business with the intention of transferring to NKU to earn a Bachelor’s degree.

The Endowment investment of $200,000 will be matched by Gateway to maximize the return on investment. By creating an endowment, the fund will foster the legacy of the “Farris gene” of philanthropy into the DNA of Covington.

Their intense commitment to Covington will live on through this endowment that will give students the lift they need to succeed on the pathway out of poverty.

This is no ordinary scholarship. The students who will be fortunate enough to utilize the scholarship will have to work for it. They will be required to bring their parents into the process in order to be successful, taking part in after-school events to work toward this scholarship.

At this point in time, we are only interested in the students who really want to better themselves.

(We) believe that Holmes should reach out to students in the ninth grade. Teachers will have four years to work with them to both identify worthy candidates for the scholarship and to also help students realize how important an education is to their future success.

Contact Mark Hansel at mark.hansel@nkytrib.com

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