WALTON COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — A scholarship opportunity not based on GPA is up for grabs across the panhandle.  

The Ellison McCraney Ingram Foundation is giving five local kids up to $40 thousand for continued education. 

Flagler freshman athlete Kaleb Hollins secured a full ride after winning the money in 2022. 

“It helped a lot, really. So at the college, I go to now, Flagler College is, as most people know, it’s a private school, so it is pretty expensive. Around $45,000 a year. So at first when I got my athletic scholarship it was still a little shaky, like if I was going to even be able to go because it was still a lot of money we had to pay out of pocket,” said Kaleb Hollins.

The main requirement was to be involved in one of 15 local charities like the Boys and Girls Club. All of the charities partner with the Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation.

“Most charities end at age 18 and we wanted to start at that point and help them create their own foundation and get a job and get their college degree or any kind of degree or certificate for continuing education to help,” said Paul Barcus, Ellison McCraney Ingram Foundation. 

Two other kids received the 2022 scholarships sending them to ministry school or to earn certificates for continued education. 

Recently, the group received a $200 thousand donation from the Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation.  Helping them fund five more scholarships over the next four years.  

Kaleb’s mother said having a community that comes together for local kids is life-changing.  

“Just a huge blessing to our family that he can do something that he absolutely loves, which is running. And the community has supported him in a way that he doesn’t have to pay for it,” said Marlayna Goosby, mother of the scholarship winner. “Think of the ways that the afterschool programs or the day programs that you’ve invested in for your kid. We think it’s just somewhere for them to go after school. There’s actually been some character developed and it means something. A lot of these scholarships, they weigh heavily on test scores or GPAs. This scholarship Caleb was awarded simply because of his character.”

The Ellison McCraney Ingram Foundation was created in 2021 after a nine-year-old Destin boy died from a brain tumor.  The scholarships are his family’s way of keeping Ellison’s spirit alive. 

Applications opened Sept. 1 and will close Dec. 1. The winners will be announced in Feb. 2024