The Speer Foundation gift is already making an impact


The Speer Foundation presents a generous donation to Saint Petersburg College

Last summer, the Speer Foundation made a donation to St. Petersburg College that is already transforming the lives of our students and their families. The $125,000 gift founded the Speer First Step Scholarship, which provides a bridge to a better life for hard-working students and their families. To date, 13 students have earned a scholarship to pursue workforce programs at SPC.

Eric McClendon, the SPC Director for Workforce Education, said the new scholarship provides a real change in the quality of life for students who could otherwise not afford the cost of a certificate program. The scholarship pays for 100 percent of the cost.

“Earning a certificate is a big change for these students,” said McClendon. “They often go from working 2-3 minimum wage jobs to new careers that pay $17-$18 an hour. They are able, for the first time, to have work-life balance.”

I’sakhiyia Smith, who used her Speer First Step Scholarship to earn a certificate in phlebotomy, knows how important the scholarship and her resulting certificate will be for her future.

“This opportunity is like a passageway into the medical field. I love helping others feel good,” she said. “I have big dreams, and this is the first step.”

Certificate programs provide students with career opportunities that pay better wages, and the courses they take in the process can be transferred into degree programs at SPC. For Smith, her phlebotomy certificate can now lead to a medical technology program, and that program will ultimately provide a pathway into a nursing program at SPC.

But that first step? Earning the certificate – something that would never have happened without the Speer Foundation’s generosity to the students at St. Petersburg College.