Giving life-changing scholarships to students enrolled in Bishop Lynch High School and beyond.
Since 2006, the Schwitter family has quietly given over 150 life-changing scholarships to students enrolled in Bishop Lynch High School, and to Bishop Lynch alumni pursuing college degrees.
Jackie and Andy Schwitter’s three children, Andre, Michael and Amanda, are all proud Bishop Lynch High School graduates who thrived during their time there. They had a great academic experience, played sports and cultivated their faith while at Bishop Lynch. Shortly after Andy sold his company in 2004, their advisor, John Bergner, recommended that they explore partnering with CFT. The family had a talk around the kitchen table about giving other deserving students the opportunity to get a Bishop Lynch education. Everyone readily agreed and volunteered to take on various components of the program. This close-knit family and their work to make a Bishop Lynch education a reality for students is the driving force behind the Bridges Scholarship at CFT.
The scholarship program started with one four-year scholarship awarded to an incoming Bishop Lynch freshman, then grew to two four-year scholarships. The scholarships are awarded to good students who earn average grades and are involved in extracurricular activities.
“We’re giving good, solid kids who earn Bs and Cs a leg up with this scholarship. It’s not only life-changing for them, it’s life-changing for me in my involvement,” said son Michael. “Our role was just planting the seed in each recipient to show that we believe in their ability, and the students have done all the rest,” said Jackie.
During the economic downturn, the Schwitters learned there was a need among rising seniors who couldn’t afford to stay at Bishop Lynch for their senior year. Thus, a new one-year Bridges Scholarship was created to provide emergency funds which ensure deserving students can earn a diploma from Bishop Lynch. Then the family created a second fund to award college scholarship dollars to Bishop Lynch alumni. “With CFT’s support, and in partnership with school counselors, the scholarship process continues to be refined each year,” said Andy.
It’s hard to express just how impactful the Bridges Scholarship has been to its many grateful recipients, who have had an educational opportunity of a lifetime and gone on to become pilots, teachers, nurses, lawyers, veterinarians and more – sharing the gifts that were given to them. “Students often share with us in their notes and letters how they’re sparked to help someone in the future and want to pay it forward,” said Jackie. Some have even received additional full-ride scholarships to universities.
Jackie is a regular at the annual “prize patrol” surprise visits. When an incoming freshman is awarded a full four-year Bridges Scholarship to Bishop Lynch, a team from CFT and the school shows up at the eighth grader’s school with balloons, flowers and news of the scholarship award. The student’s family is in attendance, having been called to the school for a “meeting.” There are joyful exclamations, happy tears, hugs and changed lives.
“The Schwitters are a very special family,” noted Bishop Lynch President Chris Rebuck. “They’ve truly made philanthropy a family affair and positively impacted so many lives. When you take the hundreds of students who’ve received much-needed financial assistance from the Bridges Scholarship and look at the good they are doing in their communities, it’s a snowball effect of goodwill.”
Both of Jackie and Andy’s sons serve on the Bridges Scholarship Committee. Michael and his wife Kara handle the incoming freshman and high school scholarships, and Andre and his wife Robyn work with CFT to focus on the college scholarship side and participate in interviewing the college applicants. The close family dynamics and their hands-on involvement in the process, coupled with CFT’s guidance and oversight, fuels the Bridges Scholarship. In addition to their scholarship fund, the Schwitters partner with CFT on their charitable giving through the Schwitter Family Fund, a donor-advised fund at CFT. They are also proud members of CFT’s legacy society, the Live Oak Society. With grandchildren now in the family, the third generation is already learning the importance of philanthropy.