Scholarships Taking Elementary Promising Students (STEPS) to CF is a unique investment in higher education. It is a college scholarship program that presents awards to promising fifth-grade students at every public elementary school in Citrus, Levy and Marion counties and the Boys and Girls Club of Marion County.
Each year school teachers, principals and Boys and Girls Club officials select deserving fifth-grade students to receive the endowed scholarships established by generous community donors. Upon graduating from high school, having remained drug- and crime-free and demonstrating continued academic achievement, STEPS to CF recipients receive $4,000 for tuition and fees for any program of study at the College of Central Florida.
In 2015, 10 years after the start of the program, the CF Foundation announced the completion of the initial goal, which was to have two scholarships in place at every eligible elementary school in the tri-county area. Community support was so strong that several schools have three or four scholarships to award each year. In 2016, the program was expanded to also offer three scholarships to promising students at the Boys and Girls Club of Marion County.
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STEPS to CF program history
In 2005, community leader Bernard “Bernie” L. Little Jr. was a member of the CF Foundation Board of Directors. Little was familiar with a scholarship program recognizing promising and financially deserving fifth-grade students at another college in Florida and presented the idea to the board. Once the board approved the program, Little personally established the first three scholarships. Through the years, Little has personally funded 17 scholarships, the majority he named for other board members and individuals in the community. To honor Little’s commitment to the program, another generous donor established the final scholarship in his name. Though Little has long retired from the board, he is fondly remembered as the father of STEPS to CF.