Van Pelt Family Helps All Students Access Their Dreams

"We established this Scholarship after our daughter Haley had an accident resulting in a traumatic brain injury. She was not able to attend college, and we have learned a lot about living with disabilities. Therefore, we wanted to help those with disabilities reach their dream of a college education.” - Bill and Lexie Van Pelt

a photo of Bill, Haley & Lexie Van Pelt in 2012
Bill, Haley & Lexie Van Pelt in 2012

The Haley Elise Van Pelt Scholarship Fund was the first of its kind for the Foundation, so our Scholarship team connected with inclusive, post-secondary programs, such as UTFuture and AccessETSU, to learn how they help young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities make a successful transition from high school to adult life. Consulting these professionals helped us to design a unique scholarship application that would gather information while being accessible to the applicants.

To my knowledge, East Tennessee Foundation (ETF) is the only community foundation in Tennessee administering a scholarship like this,” said Beth Heller, ETF Vice President for Scholarship Programs. “This scholarship program is an example of how our Foundation works with the community to address the needs of all students in East Tennessee. An ETF scholarship is a gift that keeps on giving, as recipients, their families, communities, and our region can benefit for generations; as well as in the lives of the people who establish them.”

Fundholders receive tremendous satisfaction and are moved by knowing the scholarships they established are changing lives. An excerpt from a thank you letter written by a recent recipient of this particular scholarship stated, “I am so happy that I was chosen to receive the Haley Elise Van Pelt Scholarship! Thank you so much for the opportunity to continue my search for independence and job skills. The scholarship means I can live on campus next semester and keep learning how to be an independent and confident person!