The Daniels Fund will receive the ASU Willis Fassett Jr. Corporate Award


Article by Linda Relyea

Mary Haynes, Linda Childears, and Michael Savage, stand with sculpture of Bill Daniels, outside the Daniels Fund Building with fall foliage behind

Boundless Opportunity Scholarship Relations Manager Mary Haynes, President and CEO Linda Childears, and Scholar Relations Officer Michael Savage, stand with the sculpture of Bill Daniels.

For the last 16 years, Adams State University students have benefited greatly from the vision and generosity of Bill Daniels, cable television pioneer. Providing opportunities for those who could use a “hand-up,” Daniels established the Daniels Fund, a private charitable foundation dedicated to making life better for the people of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming through its grants program, scholarship program, and ethics initiative.

Daniels Fund President and CEO Linda Childears manages the non-profit. “Bill Daniels left such an incredible legacy and gift to the four states. It is amazing how many lives he has touched.”

The Adams State University Foundation will present the Daniels Fund with the Willis Fassett Jr. Corporate Award at the Annual Donor and Student Recognition Dinner on November 10.

“For over fifteen years, the Daniels Fund has contributed nearly seven hundred thousand dollars to assist Adams State students achieve their academic objectives and enter their community as educated, prepared and productive members of the work-force and society,” said Adams State President Beverlee J. McClure.

President and CEO Childears, Scholar Relations Officer Michael Savage, and Boundless Opportunity Scholarship Relations Manager Mary Haynes will be present to accept the award, the Buffalo Chant, a bronze sculpture created by Adams State alumnus William Moyers ’39, specifically for the Willis Fassett Jr. award.

“I believe Bill Daniels would be pleased to know Adams State shares many of the same goals as the Daniels Fund. I appreciate the commitment of President Linda Childears, and all the Daniels Fund staff, and am delighted they will accept the Willis Fassett Junior Corporate Award,” McClure added.

Adams State students reap the benefits from two of the Daniels Fund programs. The Daniels Scholarship Program provides a comprehensive, four-year annually-renewable college scholarship for graduating high school seniors who demonstrate exceptional character, leadership, and a commitment to serving their communities. The Boundless Opportunity Scholarship provides college scholarships for non-traditional students of all ages, awarded by select colleges and universities using funds provided by the Daniels Fund.

The Boundless Opportunity Scholarship program awarded $345,000 to non-traditional Adams State students and the Daniels Scholarship Program has provided over $340,000 to high school graduates who attended Adams State.

Daniels Scholarship Program

Among the Adams State students who have received financial assistance and personal guidance from the Daniels Fund are Stefan Armenta, a senior majoring in earth history and physical geography and sociology, Estelle Sandoval, a senior nursing major, and Emily Thong, a 2015 graduate with a degree in accounting.

Thong graduated in three and a half years. “The financial assistance and strong, reliable support I have received from the Daniels Fund has been an absolute blessing. The financial assistance alleviated the stress of finding a way to pay for school.”

Besides supporting students financially, Savage travels to Alamosa frequently to meet with the scholars and provide encouragement. “We contact them all the time,” he said.

Sandoval said the Daniels Fund helps resolve any issues. “The Daniels Fund definitely makes a huge effort to pave the way to success for each of its recipients because we have many meetings and resources to guide us in the right direction. We always have access to someone if we need any help at all.”

Thong agreed: “Even better than the financial assistance was the support they gave me. Nothing encourages a person more than a great group of people constantly rooting for you, doing anything they can to ensure you succeed.”

For Childears, the one-on-one contact with the scholars is the most rewarding aspect of her position. “Talking to individual scholar students and staying in contact, on an extremely personal level, helps directly impact the individual. It is my favorite aspect of my job.”

“Being a Daniels Scholar, they encourage you to do better, be better,” Thong said. “They make you feel like even you, this one single person, can change the world. I am forever grateful to the Daniels Fund. It is truly an honor. My academic career was successful and I now have a career that I thoroughly enjoy.”

The Daniels Fund has meant a great deal to Armenta. “The Daniels fund pushed me to continue striving for the best and with their mentoring system, I have always felt like I had someone in my corner cheering me on. I can truly say if it were not for the Daniels Fund, I would not be finishing college. They have made it possible for me to attend all four years of school with their constant support in both funds and my well-being.”

Thong currently works in Alamosa at Wall, Smith, and Bateman, Inc., an accounting firm. She had an internship at the office while still a student. “We realize that employers appreciate experience when hiring,” Savage said. “The Daniels Fund helps to connect students with meaningful, real-world career experience through internships.”

Armenta had internships with the Environment for the Americas and the Adams State Police Department. “By the Daniels Fund continuing to be there for me, I know that I will go on to do great things and can give the credit to Daniels for getting me where I am today.”

Gainfully employed and contributing to their community is the “end game,” according to Childears. “It means even more to us when Daniels Scholars, who graduated from Adams State, stay in Alamosa and help the community thrive.”

The Willis Fassett Jr. Award is given by the Adams State University Foundation to strong supporters of the university. The award is named for the late Willis Fassett Jr., who was a long-time president of the Foundation Board of Directors.

“It is nice to be recognized and appreciated for the work we are doing,” Childears said.

Adams State and the Daniels Fund make a concerted effort to reach-out to students from traditionally underserved populations. “Both institutions meet people were they are and help them move to next goal and let people be all they can be,” Childears added.

Boundless Opportunity Scholarship

After awarding Adams State the Boundless Opportunity Scholarship funding, the college manages the grant. “This is a little different than the Daniels Scholarship Program,” Haynes said. The Daniels Fund contacts universities in the four states and receives requests for the grant funding. “This money can be used for adult learners, those who earned their GED, students who were in the foster care system, or returning military, as well as others.”

The Daniels Fund provides Boundless Opportunity Scholarship funding to Adams State and then the university manages the selection process. The students who benefit from this aid tend to be older. “They have different challenges than the recent high school graduates,” Haynes said. “They have to balance life, family, work, and still be productive in school.”

According to Childears, the Boundless Opportunity Scholarship has a different objective than the Daniels Scholarship. “Whereas the Daniels Scholarship recipients are traditional-aged with clear goals, with plans to graduate in four years and then seek employment, the Boundless Opportunity Scholarships may assist an individual complete a new skill set and not necessarily a four-year degree.”

Bill Daniels established the Daniels Fund to operate in perpetuity as a permanent part of the communities the nonprofit serves. The assets were provided entirely by Daniels, upon his death in 2000. The annual return generated through careful investment of assets creates the capacity for charitable giving while maintaining, or even growing, the asset base.

As state and federal funding for higher education continues to diminish, and the tuition costs continues to rise, Childears, Savage, and Haynes hope students will make smart choices when it comes to earning their undergraduate degree. “I worry about the changes,” Childears said. “I encourage students to think about what type of degree will be applicable when seeking employment.”

Savage said the Daniels Fund does not want to decrease their scholarship allocations. “I advise high school students and their parents to be smart. To apply to many universities and then calculate the cost, including distance from home.” Haynes agrees: “We hear many students claiming they always wanted to attend a Hawaiian or Californian institution, it seems so exotic. I encourage them to look at what is most important. Students should first consider what degree program they seek and keep in mind the added cost of out-of-state tuition.”

The Daniels Fund has opened the application process for Daniels Scholarships, with a November 30 deadline. For more information on the Daniels Scholarship Program visit Daniels Fund.