PANAMA CITY BEACH − A local nonprofit organization is gearing up to host a charity dinner to help graduating seniors in three Panhandle counites go to college.
According to Sean Preston, executive director of the Gulf Coast State College Foundation, the group will host its annual dinner on Feb. 9 at the Edgewater Golf and Beach Resort to raise money for its Gulf Coast Guarantee Scholarship.
The scholarship is one of two types offered by the foundation, and it provides $700 per semester to about 550 select students each year. This funds about 60% of their tuition at Gulf Coast State College, and the scholarship is available for graduating high school seniors in Bay, Gulf and Franklin counties.
“Every time we have an event like this, the proceeds support the current campaign, and our current campaign is the Gulf Coast Guarantee Scholarship program,” Preston said. “We endeavor to provide a $700 scholarship per student per semester for all high school graduates coming out of Bay, Gulf and Franklin counties. That’s public school, private school, charter school, home school.
“We don’t really care where you come from. We just want you to get here and get started with your education.”
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The event will begin at 5:30 p.m., and dinner will be served at 6:45 p.m. Students and donors of the organization will be recognized throughout the event. Country music singer Mackenzie Carpenter will perform at the event and hold an meet and greet for VIP sponsors.
The foundation was created in 1967, and it supports Gulf Coast State College, located at 5230 U.S. 98 in Panama City. The group raises money to fund a variety of things at the school, including scholarships, new courses and beautification projects.
Its main purpose, however, is to provide scholarships. Apart from the Gulf Coast Guarantee, the foundation also offers a scholarship open to everyone and covers all tuition fees. About 750 people are selected for this scholarship every year.
Preston said individual tickets to the annual dinner cost $150, and three types of tables can be bought for approximately $2,000, $3,000 and $4,000. He expected this year’s dinner to raise about $150,000.
As of Thursday, there were fewer than 100 available tickets to the event.