COEUR D’ALENE – As dozens of students and their families sat down Tuesday morning at the Coeur d’Alene Resort, they had good reason to feel grateful.
The occasion was the Coeur d’Alene Chamber Top Scholars breakfast, an annual event that donates thousands of dollars in scholarships to local students.
Typically the event raises enough from local businesses to provide $1,000 to a handful of students, but this year the Coeur d’Alene Regional Chamber Education Committee’s annual scholarship program outdid itself and then got an unexpected financial boost from the Coeur d’Alene Tribe.
When it was all said and done, the top 52 students in the Coeur d’Alene region each received $2,000 in scholarship money for college.
That’s double the students and double the money that was initially expected.
“Beyond excited,” committee chair Rocky Owens of Lewis-Clark State College said.
The tribe’s scholarship gift announcement came from Chief Allan just as students and their families were about to depart from Tuesday’s event.
“He said it had been such a wonderful event,” Owens recalled. “And then he said, ‘The Coeur d’Alene Tribe would like to double that for you.’ ”
“Suddenly each student was getting $2,000 and we’re giving out $104,000,” Owens said.
Allan wasn’t available for comment on Tuesday, but Owens said Allan was “really touched by the whole event, and after hearing from the students, he wanted to do more.”
“We all understand how well Chief Allan and the Coeur d’Alene Tribe value education and how much personally Chief Allan talks about education being the great equalizer,” Owens said.
The gift capped a remarkable year for the scholarship program, which usually raises money for a handful of scholarships.
However, the effort was jump-started by an earlier pledge from the tribe to match all scholarship donations made by businesses.
“We had been talking about Chief Allan coming forward and said, here’s what we’d like to do,” said Owens, who heads the Coeur d’Alene Center for Lewis-Clark State.
“We decided to challenge the business community,” Owens said.
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