Ranch & Coast Magazine

September 2022

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PHOTO BY VINCENT KNAKAL Next Gen Leaders Future Legends sets up students for success at school — and in life T HE IDEA MAY HAVE BEEN born on the golf course at Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club, but Future Legends' goal isn't to shape the next great golf star. e nonprofit scholarship organization's sights are set with a much broader scope: awarding collegiate scholarships and providing ongoing guidance to deserving students throughout their college career. Created in 2011 and originally known as the Chuck Courtney Honorary Scholarship Fund (named for the beloved former touring professional and longtime Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club pro), Future Legends selects, on average, between two and four students per year from applicants throughout San Diego. Far from simply a one-time, check-writing scholarship organization, Future Legends is truly unique in its approach as it guides scholars through their college careers with ongoing mentorship from its volunteer member mentors whose professional experience relates to the student's field of study, plus personal development and support beyond academics — all in addition to the student's renewable annual scholarship that's paid directly to their college or university. Simply put, "is isn't just money," says Eric Manese, Future Legends' president. While there is a minimum grade point average required for scholars to maintain as well as an annual volunteering commitment, mentors also have their own end of the agreement to hold up. A minimum once-monthly check- in with their scholar keeps mentors engaged and apprised of progress, needs, and challenges — even to the point of assisting with course load and class selection. "e mentor's first responsibility is to establish that their role is to help that young scholar become a success both in college as well as build their career platform so that they'll be successful there and truly be future legends," says Vearl Smith, Founding Chairman at Future Legends. e development of those ongoing relationships and investments in the students' future is what helped Future Legends evolve to best prepare its scholars for success. When a mentor realized there was a need for a mentee to learn how to conduct themselves in a professional environment, an etiquette course was added. Taught by Juliann Ford, owner of Rancho Santa Fe-based Manners Prep, the course is offered to students at no cost. When a student spoke up about needing an interview-friendly wardrobe, a program was created to provide each scholar with funds to purchase key pieces with the guidance of a personal shopper at Nordstrom. e success rate of Future Legends, with its breadth and depth of involvement, is irrefutable. To date, according to Smith, the organization has supported 27 students, 13 of which are graduates — notably, a one hundred percent graduation rate — and the remaining 14 are currently enrolled. And it's not limited to undergraduate work. "We fund these young people through their undergraduate [studies], but if they want to pursue master's or doctorate degrees, we stay with them not only financially, but our primary drive is around mentoring and getting them into their career path successfully," says Smith. Due to the vast network of Future Legends, mentors live throughout the country, and though the organization has received interest in duplicating its model in other locations, the program is currently offered only to San Diego County students. To apply, donate, or become a mentor, visit futurelegends.org. DEANNA MURPHY Focus philanthropy @ranchandcoast ranchandcoast.com 58 SEPTEMBER 2022 RANCH & COAST MAGAZINE Eric Manese and Vearl Smith stand proudly before a photo honoring golf pro Chuck Courtney at the Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club

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