Dozens of students from schools across Collier County were awarded college scholarships this year by the Naples Yacht Club Chapter of the International Order of the Blue Gavel enabling them to proceed to college and further their education.

More than $143,000 in scholarships were presented this year to local high school seniors and members of Naples Yacht Club staff. Also included in the total is a Florida state matched scholarship grant of $10,000 that is awarded to First Generation Matching Grant Program students at Florida Gulf Coast University. Since 1998, more than 700 local students have been awarded over $1.5 million in scholarships through this organization.

“The Blue Gavel Scholarship Fund is unique to Naples Yacht Club,” said Past Commodore James R. Lozelle, Chair of the Blue Gavel Scholarship Fund Committee. “Many years ago, the Committee wanted to find a way to assist our Club employees and their families by providing scholarships that enable students to go to college. Through our member’s generosity, we had a surplus of funds so we were able to extend the scholarship program to local high school students. This is in addition to the scholarships provided to Club employees and family members. Over the years, many students have benefitted from this program. It is part of what Naples Yacht Club does to support our community.”

Students representing all nine Collier County public high schools each earned a $5,000 scholarship. They include Christopher Axline, Naples High School; Nicole Valbueena Beltran, Golden Gate High School; Hailey Bernau, Barron Collier High School; Daniela Bermudez Bueno, Immokalee High School; Georginia Charles, Lorenzo Walker Tech; Lauren Esala – Palmetto Ridge High School; Rachel Gopman, Gulf Coast High School; Alexis Hendrickson, Everglades High School; and Theresa Keegan, Lely High School.

The Blue Gavel Scholarship Fund Committee also awarded $30,140 in scholarships to 11 Naples Yacht Club employees or employee’s children for the Spring semester; $19,560 to six Club staff members or their children for the Summer semester; and $38,900 to 10 Club employees or employee’s children to attend the upcoming Fall semester.

The scholarship fund was established in 1997 as an organization of Past Commodores to help employees of the Naples Yacht Club and their families. Two years later, the fund changed its name in 1999 to the Naples Yacht Club Blue Gavel Scholarship Fund, Inc. and is now classified as a tax-exempt organization under the Internal Revenue Service.

Today, the Blue Gavel Scholarship Fund concentrates on educational programs and specifically the awarding of scholarships not only employees of the Naples Yacht Club and their children but also high school seniors in Collier County and students at FGCU.

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