For Comcast, it’s an investment in our future. For students, it’s acknowledgement that years of hard work and initiative have been recognized by their principals, teachers, and guidance counselors – and by others they’ve yet to meet, but who believe in their potential.
Comcast Community Investment Director Kim Smith, after more than 10 years overseeing the scholarship program in New Jersey, continues to be impressed by the caliber of the students.
She points to Brandon Karpowich, who was raised in Toms River, N.J. Brandon was a 2013 Leaders and Achievers scholar who attended the statewide recognition ceremony in Trenton last year. While he didn’t walk away with the top prize awarded that day – a $10,000 Founders Scholarship given in honor of Comcast Founder Ralph Roberts – Brandon made a lasting impression on those he met, including Kim.
Like so many other Leaders and Achievers, Brandon embodies the best of what this program is all about: smart, creative, dedicated students who are not only strong academically, but who strive to make a difference in their communities every day.
By the time Kim met him in his senior year of high school, Brandon had already founded a nonprofit called Volunteers R Us, which was an effort to improve the volunteer experience by using a web portal to connect those seeking local volunteer opportunities with organizations in need. Through the website, Volunteers R Us could connect more than 1,000 potential volunteers with over 20 nonprofit organizations.
Last fall, Brandon entered the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. Kim kept in touch with him, as she does with many Leaders and Achievers alumni, and in September he reached out to her for help in establishing a clothing drive for veterans returning to the workforce.
Brandon and fellow Wharton students partnered with Comcast employees at our Philadelphia headquarters on a successful clothing drive that resulted in the collection of more than 600 suits and 1,200 articles of professional clothing such as dress shirts, shoes, and ties.
The effort garnered additional support from financial firms in Philadelphia such as Janney Montgomery Scott and Goldman Sachs, and contributions benefitted organizations including Veterans Upward Bound, Veterans Comfort House, and the National Center for Homelessness Among Veterans. The project was so successful that Brandon and a fellow student are continuing the effort and have established a charitable organization certified within the state of Pennsylvania.
Thanks to the Leaders and Achievers program, Kim has connected with some of the best and brightest students across the country.
Scholarship dollars go a long way in helping students achieve their goals of post-secondary education. For Kim, it’s also exciting to know that so many of our Leaders and Achievers Scholars are also aware of the value of connecting – connecting to their communities, connecting to other students, and connecting to business and community leaders who see their potential as leaders of tomorrow.
One Student’s Thank You
During a ceremony this spring at the New Jersey State Museum, Comcast awarded high school senior Jeremy Garriga of Jersey City with a Leaders and Achievers Founders Award. Below is part of a letter he wrote Freedom Region Senior Vice President LeAnn Talbot sharing what the scholarship meant to him and his family.
"I wanted to especially thank you for the Comcast Founders Award at the New Jersey State Museum. I learned many things that special afternoon; most notably that Comcast truly does care. When I took part in Comcast Cares Day prior to the ceremony, I witnessed the enormity of what Comcast does in giving back, and was proud to take part. I, along with my family, even signed up for Comcast Cares Day 2015!
"I have since been to other functions but must point out that this was unlike others when you reached out to us and other families that afternoon. Your words of encouragement and kindness will forever resonate. Everyone from your organization was cordial, and made us all feel welcome.
"Thank you for the recognition and the award; I am now even more determined to continue in my pre-med track at Seton Hall University and one day in the not so distant future, become a neurologist."
This year, Comcast recognized nearly 2,000 outstanding students with $1,000 Leaders and Achievers Scholarships – but some of them received an even larger award, starting their freshman year with a $10,000 Comcast Founders Scholarship. In the video above, meet two of this year’s Founders Scholars from Denver, Colo. and find out what the Comcast Leaders and Achievers program means to them.