Thanks to the tremendous support from local businesses in the Quad Cities and individual contributions from donors across the United States we are blessed to endow the Evelyn Lehman iHope Scholarship.
iHope Mission Statement: The mission of iHope is to provide low income students at Pleasant Valley Jr. High who display positive character traits and work habits with technological resources and scholarships that will aid in academic achievement and success.
iHope's Idea: iHope is a nonprofit foundation created by Jeff Paul. Mr. Paul is an 8th grade American History teacher at Pleasant Valley Jr. High
The Birth of iHope: In July of 2009 my grandmother, Evelyn Lehman passed away. My grandma was an awesome person. Her and my grandpa gave time, energy, and money to their church, community and to their grand kids. When my grandma died she left all of her grandchildren some money. I knew I wanted to use this money in a giving way because that would make my grandma proud.
In the spring of 2012 I had a student that displayed outstanding work habits and character traits. This particular student came from a low-income family. They did not let the circumstances affect how they treated people or how hard they worked. There were no excuses. This student had been working hard on an extra credit project for my class and when I asked one day if it was finished they pulled it out of their bag fighting back tears telling me how the storm the night before caused it to get all wet in their bedroom. The project resembled what the student told me. My heart broke for this student as I realized the situation they were living in. I went home and told Jen about it and we decided right away we wanted to do something for this student. We decided to use "Grandma's Fund" to buy the student an iPad along with a heavy duty protective case and some iBook gift cards. When I presented this gift to the student it was immediately noticeable what kind of impact it had. Along with the gift I gave the student a letter telling why we felt this gift was merited and encouraging the student to "Pay it Forward". As I saw the impact this iPad had I quickly realized I wanted to do this for more kids. After meeting with our Superintendent we created the iHope Foundation. As a professional triathlete I donate all my race winnings to this foundation. I have also been blessed to have businesses who sponsor me by making iHope foundation contributions. Through the extreme generosity of so many in the first year we have been able to add a scholarship component so every student who receives an iPad will also receive a $1,000.00 college scholarship when the graduate high school provided they meet the academic, attendance, and character criteria.
I am motivated in races because I've seen the impact these gifts have on students in our school. I am fueled by the desire to make this happen as often as possible. This gift and the jolt of confidence it brings can help change a child's life.