Thirty-eight Idaho high school seniors have been awarded “Governor’s Cup” scholarships to college, funded by the annual Governor’s Cup golf tournament at which corporate sponsors, lobbyists, lawmakers and state officials gather to play golf, fish, shoot, dine and mingle. Last year’s fundraiser was a “banner year,” according to Gov. Butch Otter’s office, allowing the number of scholarships awarded to rise from 23 the previous year.
The students get $3,000 a year scholarships to Idaho colleges or universities for up to four years, or up to three years for professional-technical programs. That means this year’s recipients will get nearly $500,000 in scholarships. The program was started by then-Gov. Cecil Andrus as a small golf tournament in 1974, and has been continued each year since then by governors of both parties. When Otter took office, he began holding the event in both Sun Valley and Coeur d’Alene, alternating each year. This year’s will be in Sun Valley in September.
“If there are two things we can never get enough of, but already have in abundance, it’s talented, committed young people and generous citizens eager to help them achieve their dreams,” Otter said in a statement. “The Governor’s Cup Scholarship program is honored to have the support of great sponsors who care about Idaho’s future and understand that it’s in the hands of today’s youth. I’m overjoyed to be able to reward these students with a hand up toward reaching their higher education goals. And I’m equally proud of the sponsors who make it all possible.”
For the upcoming 2015 Governors Cup, “premier” sponsors, who pay $35,000 apiece, so far include CenturyLink and Mountain View Hospital. “Major” sponsors, at $25,000 each, include Clearwater Paper, Blue Cross of Idaho, Potlatch Corp., Micron, Simplot Corp. and Intermountain Gas Co. Among the “gold” sponsors, at $16,000 each, are Chobani, Idaho Power, and Corizon.
Seven hundred students applied for the scholarships this year; they’re judged by a 16-member board, with criteria including commitment to public service, academic achievement and community involvement. You can see the full list of recipients here. Jim Schmit, Idaho vice president and general manager for CenturyLink, is this year’s board president; half the 16 board members are registered lobbyists. Also serving on the board are First Lady Lori Otter; Sen. John Tippets; and state Commerce Director Jeff Sayer.
In addition to raising money for scholarships, the event offers lobbyists and company officials prime access to state lawmakers and policy-makers. Individuals who attend the event and pay their own way pay fees of $1,500 each to golf, shoot or fly-fish, or $1,300 to just attend social events.
Former Gov. Phil Batt, in a 40th anniversary video for the Governors Cup that was filmed at last year’s tournament by a young scholarship recipient, said, “It’s more expensive than it was, and businesses are kicking in a lot more money than they used to. I’m very happy to see all that, because the money goes to such a good cause. It’s just raising an incredible amount.” There’s more about the Governor’s Cup at the event’s website here.