In 1986, Howard and Nancy Terry set up a private foundation, The Terry Foundation. This was set up to help financially needy children in Texas attend public colleges and universities. Mr. Terry had attended the University of Texas on a football scholarship, and they decided they wanted to give of their time and financial resources to a new generation of students. One of the guiding principles of the Foundation is that the scholarship recipients are expected to give back to their community by serving others.
There is a dire need in Texas for higher education, and the Terrys help the most marginal and financially needy students achieve their dreams of a college education. The scholarship recipients are chosen based on academics, leadership, and financial need. Most recipients are the first members of their family to ever attend college.
Unlike other scholarship programs, the Terrys wanted their Foundation to do more than simply send a check in the mail to students it supported. They wanted to have a direct and personal connection with the students. In addition to this, they wanted to broaden the Foundation beyond a single college. The result has been a program now in its fifteenth year that has served hundreds of students. It is also the largest private scholarship program at both the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A & M University. With the help and encouragement of the Terrys, the students are able to better their lives and the lives of those around them.
The Terrys have been actively involved in the scholarship program since its inception in 1986. Since that time, scholarships have been awarded to more than 850 students. The program is now extending scholarship offers to 161 new freshmen annually with plans to expand to more in the near future. The Terrys intend to have this scholarship program available in perpetuity, and they have funded it and organized it accordingly. The average scholarship in the latest school year was almost $8,200, and scholarships for the neediest students may go to $12,000 per year.
Recognizing that many of the scholarship recipients come from disadvantaged backgrounds, the Terry Foundation holds an orientation program each fall to aid the students with developing good study habits and establishing a support network that will ensure their success in college. It is unique in that the scope of the program is different, and the size of the award covers virtually the entirety of a student’s educational costs.
The Terrys also take the time to meet and encourage all the students on an ongoing basis. They even require that the students provide them with a regular update. They have a banquet at each university every fall where the students hear a speaker of their choice. They also hold an enormous picnic in the spring that is attended by all current students and alumni.