The 2023 online scholarship application, for awards administered by the Polk Education Foundation (PEF), is now closed.
Scholarships administered by the PEF are made possible by the generosity of donors from our community. Donors set their own criteria, and, some will make recipient selections themselves after applications are screened in the PEF office. Many will go to committees for review and a handful will hold interviews. A huge thank you to all the donors that make these scholarships possible!
Selections should be made by the time senior award ceremonies begin and recipient announcements are made there.
Award letters are then sent to all recipients after the completion of the last senior award ceremony on the schedule. No letters are sent to applicants who were declined.
Recipients must then follow the directions in the pack sent to them via US mail to their home, to request funds be sent to their college or university.
Hard Copy Applications Not Part of the Online Application Process
Scholarships started after the online application opens will be done in hard copy format. They will be posted below and sent to counselors to share. Please follow the deadline noted for each.
Scholarships for students other than Polk County Public Schools, may also be found in hard copy below.
Hard copy applications currently open to those outside the public or charter school system:
Staff Sergeant John Reiners Memorial Application
This application is for students outside of Polk County who are a JROTC Cadet who participated in the Feb. 13, 2016, SSG John Reiners Memorial Walk/Jog-a-thon at Haines City High School.
View and download the application.
Polk Education Association Application
This application is for students whose parents are members of the PEA, but the student attends high school outside of Polk County.
View and download the application.
AFSCME Renewal Application
This application is for prior recipients of this award, who may apply to renew.
View and download the application.
Look Where They Are Now!
High School Graduation 2017
Scholarships Received: Grant Lacerte Memorial Scholarship for Excellence in Music, Winter Haven Women’s Club Scholarship, and T.J. Bowden “It’s all good” Passion Project
Kasie graduated in the top ten at WHHS and was an active member in the band and multiple other clubs on campus. She was heavily involved in the community as well as music theatre. At Florida State University, Kasie was a member of the Florida State Marching Chiefs and went on to earn a Medal of Honor. She also had the amazing opportunity to serve as President for her sorority and be a peer counselor to the college kids on campus. Kasie graduated in December of 2021 with two degrees and three certificates. She is starting her masters in the fall of 2022 focused on mental health counseling while earning accreditation in play therapy. After completing, Kasie wants to begin working in low economic areas to provide resources to children who are in search for help. She also plans on pursuing her PhD in Counseling Psychology. Kasie’s end destination will be owning her own private practice providing all types of therapy for kiddos including music therapy, speech therapy, sports therapy, etc… Children and their families will participate in talk therapy, completing their initial intakes. Referring families to different in house therapy sources based on their needs, while all providing a place they trust!
Kasie went on to share, “These scholarships allowed me to enter college with an eagerness to explore and find my place in the world post high school graduation. The world is a scary place and having the security of scholarships to help lessen the scariness of money aspects allowed me to be more engrossed in the world of a normal college student. It allowed me to obtain two degrees and become one step closer to the career I’ve always dreamed of having. I am forever thankful for all of the encouragement and support from the Polk Education Foundation and others who funded my way through college. I wouldn’t be where I am now without all of the love and support!”
High School Graduation 2014
Scholarships received: Latt Maxcy Foundation, Inc. Scholarship
“As a first-generation college student, the opportunity to further my education was very important to me. I was so nervous I wouldn’t be able to afford the cost but, the Polk Education Foundation (PEF) made my college career possible. I will never forget the day during the Harrison School for the Arts senior award ceremony when PEF announced I won a scholarship. I remember being so incredibly honored. All my dreams were finally possible. I truly believe the opportunities I have been presented with would not have been possible if it weren’t for PEF and Maxcy Foundation paving the path for me. Once I finished my undergraduate degree and decided to pursue the ambition of higher education, I was matched with an all too familiar struggle. The US Virgin Islands challenged me with high living expenses, travel fees, and international tuition rates. I was not expecting to receive any aid from Maxcy Foundation and was overwhelmed with gratitude when I was notified that they wanted to assist in funding my graduate degree. I will remain forever thankful to PEF and Latt Maxcy for helping me follow my dreams, setting me on the path for success, and being a support system through the years,” Madyson shared.
After graduating from high school, Madyson majored in Marine Biology at the University of West Florida (UWF) in Pensacola, FL. During her undergraduate years, Madyson had several opportunities to dip her toes in the field of Marine Biology. She worked as a lab technician in The Janosik Research Lab where she executed an entire project called “Microplastic Ingestion in Mysid Shrimp from the Great Lakes”. She was also the President of the Marine Ecology Research Society at UWF. Madyson’s most exciting undergraduate adventure was when she got to study abroad in Indonesia! There she got to work on several different research projects located on a tiny remote island in the middle of the Coral Triangle (a massive coral reef system). Following her undergraduate, Madyson worked in Biloxi, Mississippi on the Salt Marsh Bird Project through Mississippi State University for 6 months before deciding to pack up and move to the US Virgin Islands where she would complete her master’s degree at the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI). At UVI, Madyson studied an invasive seagrass in the Caribbean. In addition to her thesis research, Madyson collaborated on a published research project diving into the coral disease that is plaguing Florida and the wider Caribbean. While completing a degree during COVID-19 wasn’t easy, Madyson made the most of it and even won a World Water Day video contest that allowed her to travel to Hawai’i to attend an International Youth Ocean Policy Summit. In addition to Hawai’i, Madyson’s advisor invited her to work as his summer research assistant in Bodega Bay, California. While there, she worked with some of the ocean’s strangest critters! Madyson passed her thesis defense and graduated with her M.S. in December 2021 with a GPA of 3.8! Before graduating, Madyson received a prestigious honor awarded by the National Sea Grant College Program called the John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship. This fellowship has allowed Madyson, and her new cat, to move to the Washington DC area to work with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Coral Reef Conservation Program. In addition, Madyson continues to follow her passion for diversifying the STEM field through work with organizations like Women in Ocean Science, Heirs to Our Oceans, and the US Youth Advisory Council for the UN Ocean Decade.
Take Stock in Children Scholarships
Learn more about the Take Stock in Children program and associated scholarships.
Previous Recipients of PEF Scholarships
For previous scholarship recipients who need to request funds, please complete the form below and return it to the Polk Education Foundation using the address provided on the form. A copy of the thank you note written to your donor must also be on file with this form to have funds disbursed.
Scholarship College Information Sheet
Recipients receive a copy of the Scholarship Policy with their award letter. A policy copy is also sent to each college or university with scholarship checks.
Fund a Scholarship
You can sponsor a scholarship for Polk County High School graduating seniors in your club or business name, or, in memory of a loved one. After the application period ends, all scholarship applications are collected, screened and recipients selected through a competitive application process using the criteria each donor has set. We strive to make sure each application is given focus and attention to allow for the best candidates to be awarded scholarships. Donors can choose to participate in the selection process or allow a PEF committee to make those selections. Donors determine the criteria and the amount for the award. Scholarships can be designated for certain schools or groups of recipients. PEF staff would be happy to speak to you about the process, call 863-534-0519 to discuss.
Scholarships are promoted online every January through the Polk County School District and Polk Education Foundation. The last list of scholarships offered can be found at a link at the top of this page. Scholarship funds are awarded in the spring of each year; funds are not distributed directly to the student. A check is mailed payable to the college of the student’s choice during the first part of July. Thank you notes are required to be sent to each donor of a scholarship by its recipient prior to funds being disbursed.
By creating an endowed scholarship, you will have a perpetual scholarship awarded each year with no other investment needed. Endowed funds must however be invested for one year before they pay for an award. PEF’s endowment funds are professionally managed by at least 2 management firms per PEF policy. Currently a $12,500.00 donation equals a perpetual $500 scholarship. Endowed amounts and corresponding awards increase incrementally by each $12,500 donated. For more information, please contact Susan Copeland phone: 863-534-0519.