Give Back Tahoe: Youth realities require more than hard work | SierraSun.com

Give Back Tahoe: Youth realities require more than hard work

Special to the Sun

TAHOE-TRUCKEE, Calif. — Paying for college requires more than courage and hard work. When life circumstances don't provide for a young person, it requires economic support that has to be found in the generosity of neighbors and strangers in the form of scholarships.

Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation (TTCF) has facilitated many years of scholarship committees, and through the process has peered into the realities of our local youth.

We might envy kids who we imagine spend their childhood running and riding carefree amongst the trees, but for many of our young people this is merely fantasy.

In fact, 37% of kids growing up here depend on government-paid lunch while 27% of our residents live under 200% of the poverty level. This is the reality of a small mountain town whose wages cannot compare with the staggering cost of living driven by San Francisco bay salaries.

As young people prepare for college, they share these realities in community scholarship applications. Contrary to idyllic afternoons splashing at the lake, high school students commit free time to younger siblings and housework.

They save wages from after-school jobs not to pay for college tuition, but to contribute to their families' basic necessities like food and rent.

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High school requires more resilience than ever before. Peer pressure and bullying at school follow a young person home via social media. Kids suffer from anxiety, stress and depression that can sometimes paralyze their best efforts and have resulted in far too many youth suicides and their aftermath.

Personal essays in scholarship applications reveal that many of our young neighbors live realities far deeper and rawer than we imagine. But they are not giving up.

These essays are testaments to their spirit of resilience, perseverance and even heroism. Kids tell stories of starting clubs, immersing oneself in community service and devoting themselves to creative endeavors.

Those who stand out create conscious change for themselves, their families and their peers through small and large acts. They rise above.

Our young people are inspired to reach beyond their circumstances to attain dreams of a brighter future. Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation (TTCF) honors their courage through community scholarships and awarded $73,000 through eleven scholarships last year alone. While we are among others who provide scholarships, we still believe that our community youth need more.

Knowing that the average annual tuition for a four-year college is $22,000 and increasing, our goal is to add more multi-year scholarships so that more of our young people can attend college with the incentive and support that they need to successfully complete higher education.

Join TTCF in extending our hands to our young neighbors. Visit ttcf.net to contribute today.