The story of our Foundation is wonderful. It starts with honored educator, Russell R. Reynolds. In 1961, Russ Reynolds helped Steve Mihaylo earn his high school diploma via correspondence courses after Steve had left Big Bear. That simple gesture of kindness from an educator to a student prompted a lifelong friendship.
Years later, Steve Mihaylo, in an expression of thanks to Russ, donated some shares of his company stock to the Bear Valley Unified School District and he asked Russ to set up a scholarship fund. That initial gift, along with Steve’s desire to help graduating seniors from Big Bear High School, established the Steven G. Mihaylo Big Bear High School Education Foundation.
The Foundation’s story continues
with a gift of $50,000 from George Gray, a retired custodian, and is furthered by many donations from caring businesses and individuals, all of which have subsequently been matched by Steve Mihaylo. Since inception through 2011, Steve graciously matched each dollar donated toward our endowment, a total support of over $1 million.
Beginning in January 2012, Steve’s match became 25% of funds donated toward the endowment. Steve’s match, both in the past and ongoing, has been the primary motivation for many donors who could see the benefit of “leveraging up” and letting the earnings from their contribution, coupled with Steve’s match, fund scholarships and mini-grants. Needless to say, we couldn’t be where we are today without our generous donors and Steve’s gracious match.
Our endowment is what makes us unique. We have grown the endowment from the initial seed capital of $100,000 to now over $2.5 million, and that is after distributing just under $1.3 million in scholarships and mini-grants since inception. When we fund scholarships or mini-grants we are not spending the endowment. We are spending the earnings from the endowment. That means that our scholarships and programs will continue to exist long after our involvementwith theFoundation.
The Foundation Today
The Foundation has grown in many ways over the last 19 years. In our first year, our foundation gave out just five scholarships totaling $9,000. This year we’ll distribute 55 scholarships totaling $121,900, in amounts ranging from $1,000 to $10,500. This year we granted $23,500 in mini-grants to BVUSD educators to motivate and stimulate learning in the classroom. Including this year’s distributions, we have now distributed $1,225,500 in scholarships to 612 students and provided $284,920 in mini-grants touching the lives of over 20,408 students! As our endowment and programs grow, we will be able to benefit even more children. There are so many ways in which you can participate in our wonderful story, and each year our story gets better! Come, be a part! Thank you Big Bear, donors, and Steve Mihaylo, for contributing to our children and the future!