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Our Wonderful Big Bear Story

The story of our Foundation is wonderful. It starts with honored educator, Russell R. Reynolds. His kindness prompted a lifelong friendship and a subsequent generous gift of stock from Steven G. Mihaylo, a 1961 BBHS graduate. It 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 January 2012, Steve’s match is now 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. Now with Ken Wood’s generous donation last year, we were able to return to a 100% match until the end of 2015. 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 $2.4 million, and that is after distributing over $1,000,000 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 involvement with the Foundation.

We’ve grown in many ways over the last 19 years. Our first year we 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!