College-bound children of local horse farm workers have a benefactor in the form of FTFM Foundation, which is currently seeking donations for its scholarship program
A college degree is a necessity these days for young people who want to get a good job, says Debbe Wojack, executive director of FTFM Foundation. “I think right now college is like high school,” she explains. “You can’t get a job unless you go to college.”
Of course, it costs money to attend college—and that’s where Wojack and the FTFM Foundation come in. A spin-off of Florida Thoroughbred Farm Managers, a not-for-profit educational and charitable organization, FTFM Foundation offers scholarships to as many as 35 deserving local students who are either currently taking college courses or are college bound. The 501(c)(3) foundation is currently seeking donations to ensure it can continue to provide this valuable service to young people in our community.
All students aided by scholarships from FTFM Foundation are the children of individuals associated with the horse industry. “It could be the daughter of the cashier at the feed store across the street,” Wojack says as an example. “The children of anyone who’s involved in the horse industry are eligible. And these kids can go to school for anything—it doesn’t have to be specific to the horse industry.”
For example, students who have received scholarships from FTFM Foundation have attended schools for such vocations as art, hairdressing and dentistry. Many have attended the College of Central Florida, while others have attended such schools at the University of Florida, Stetson University, the Savannah College of Art and Design, and even the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va.
The only stipulations, Wojack says, are that students who apply for the scholarships “have to demonstrate financial need, have to have a GPA over 2.5, have to be taking college courses toward a degree program and have to sign up for at least 11 credit hours per semester.” Each scholarship award is for $500 per semester, so potentially students could receive as much as $4,000 in scholarship funds during a four-year college program.
Students are free to use the scholarship money in any way necessary to help with their education. “It’s really a tremendous help,” says Wojack, “because the checks go right to the kids. This is their money. That means they can pay for their books, they can put tires on their car, they can do whatever they need to do with this money. That makes a difference for them, because sometimes they have other scholarships that pay for tuition, but they don’t have any cash—they don’t have any gas money—so we find that these scholarships really help them out.”
For the most part, FTFM Foundation is funded by contributions from local farm managers and by an annual silent auction, which includes items donated by local horse farms. But due to the current economy, contributions are lagging, which is why the foundation is currently seeking donations from those in the community.
“Not only will contributions help students right here in our own backyard,” says Wojack, “but almost all of the money goes directly to the students. Many charities have a lot of overhead, but our foundation’s only expense is letterhead and envelopes. I work for free for the foundation. All of the overhead is paid for by the farm managers. So 99.8 percent of every dollar goes to those kids.”
With its current program of up to 35 scholarships per semester valued at $500 each, the foundation spends as much as $35,000 annually on its scholarship program. But the benefits, Wojack believes, are many, since the scholarships help local students who are associated with one of Marion County’s more important industries.
“Every student we support has an interesting story,” Wojack says, “and we’re trying to point them to viable careers. Our goal is to help people get jobs. So we’re looking for another way to fund this foundation, and we’d love to have the community’s help with that.”
Florida Thoroughbred Farm Managers, Inc.
6998 NW Hwy. 27, Suite 106 B
Ocala, FL 34482