Luisana Pacheco’s parents teared up as she took to the podium on Monday. A former Summit Foundation scholarship recipient, the funds allowed Pacheco to pursue her dream of becoming a surgeon.
After graduating from Summit High School in 2010, Pacheco pursued her bachelor of science in biology at Regis University, where she graduated cum laude. Shortly after, she was granted her DACA status.
“Unfortunately, because of my temporary legal status, it will be incredibly difficult to apply to, and be accepted into medical school. But I refuse to give up,” Pacheco said.
Born in Costa Rica, her family moved to Colorado when she was 13 years old. With her undocumented status, it was difficult to find a source of funding for her continued education.
“This meant living in the shadows in fear of deportation. As a student, it also meant having limited options and staggering costs when it came to finding a university to continue my education,” she said. “I am passionate about learning and love studying, and was not going to let my immigration status define my future.”
Pacheco said the two-year scholarship granted to her by The Summit Foundation brought her family financial relief as she pursued her studies. She is currently working at a pediatric clinic and will pursue an EMT program this fall.
“Their help goes beyond financial support, It’s about people who believe in your potential, your hard work, and your dreams,” she said. “The Summit Foundation has gone above and beyond to support my dreams, I am forever grateful for your generosity.”
Pacheco’s story was one of many shared at The Summit Foundation’s annual grants and scholarship awards reception in July. This year, the Foundation awarded a total of $180,000 in scholarships, and more than $2.5 million in nonprofit grants, endowments and scholarships combined.
“This is such an incredible number — it’s so exciting to us,” board of trustees president Michael Schilling said. “What we want to talk about is how it is that Summit County is able to generate that kind of money.”
Originally founded by Breckenridge Ski Resort, the Patron Pass Program, which offers ski medallions provided pro-bono by local ski areas, raised nearly $1.2 million for the Foundation last year. More than 1,000 donors contributed $1.576 million to The Summit Foundation’s operating fund in 2015.
“In all sincerity, what I saw right out of the gate when I got here was a passion for the community supporting nonprofits,” Keystone COO and board of trustees member Mike Goar said. “It’s an amazing, extraordinarily giving community.”
Some donors create funds with a specific goal in mind. Sue and Joanne Masica set up a scholarship fund to help local students pursue engineering studies last year. The Dick Masica Engineering Scholarship Fund was named after Joanne’s late husband, a former Texaco executive, who died in 2014.
Joanne Masica said they retired in Summit County, staying in their home in Frisco for 16 years.
“He worked his entire career for Texaco,” Joanne Masica said. “He was a very dedicated individual.”
Sue Masica said they set up the fund to allow students the opportunity to pursue a higher education, eligible for a second grant if a GPA requirement is met.
“My dad was an engineer; he came from a limited background,” Sue Masica said. “He felt like he never would have had the opportunities he had without a scholarship.”
This year’s recipient, Wyatt Dickerson, will study mechanical engineering at the University of Colorado.
“I was really surprised but couldn’t be more happy,” Dickerson said. “It’s definitely making a lot of my education possible.”
Josue Razo Nicolas also received two scholarships this year, to cover part of tuition costs as he attends the University of Northern Colorado.
“It’s just a great school and I’m excited to start,” he said.
Scholarships aside, Summit Foundation executive director Jeanne Bistranin noted the Foundation granted more than $1.7 million to 103 local nonprofits last year.
“Thank you to all of you for everything you do for our community,” she said. “It is our privilege to work with each and every one of you to truly make a difference.”
Of this year’s nonprofit grants, the largest amount went to organizations that support children and youth, ranging from preschools to Girl Scout troops to Team Summit. The Foundation also gave more than $500,000 to fostering healthy and safe communities, including local programs such as the Family and Intercultural Resource Center and Advocates for Victims of Assault, as well as programs in the surrounding communities.
While The Summit Foundation broke records in terms of grants and fundraising, Schilling noted the role of the community in supporting each other through downturns and times of crisis.
“It’s the people here who will be standing next to you, keeping this community great in the face of adversity and making it special,” Schilling said. “When things are not good, it’s the folks here that we’ll stand with.”