The Gresham-Kite Pilot Scholarship House at Florida Gulf Coast University will soon have a new neighbor. The Southern Scholarship Foundation and Pilot International have broken ground on the Bill & Nancy Malthouse-Pilot Scholarship House, its second facility at FGCU.
Helping to make college more affordable, the scholarship allows qualified students to live rent-free and cooperatively while pursuing their degrees.
“Most of our students are first-generation students,” explained Shawn Woodin, president and CEO of the Southern Scholarship Foundation. “All of them come from backgrounds with financial hardships, but they have overcome several other hardships. First, they’ve been admitted into a university, and then they have to qualify for our scholarship and we have pretty strict standards.”
Seventeen women live together and get a jump start on the responsibilities of adulthood. They share tasks like cooking, cleaning and attending monthly meetings. Residents are chosen based on factors like academic performance, character and financial need. They must also maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher.
The house receives support from the nonprofit Pilot International, both state and local chapters in Southwest Florida.
“What it is really providing them is a total shift in the path of their life,” said Woodin. “Once they have the education that they’re coming for, then it launches them in a career where they can be financially stable and help take care of their families.”
The Gresham-Kite Pilot Scholarship House opened in FGCU’s North Lake Village in 2003. Its current house manager is FGCU senior Danarria Stone. “Welcome to my home,” she said with a smile to about 20 people who recently attended the groundbreaking ceremony for the new house. Stone has lived in what is affectionately called the GKP House for more than three years with 16 other FGCU students.
“For me it’s been really good,” said Stone. “It can be really overwhelming considering my role. I’m basically like the mom of the house, but it has definitely changed me. These ladies have been such great friends to me.”
The house is configured with a kitchen and dining room for group meals. There is also a study room and living area where students gather to do homework or watch movies. Each bedroom is furnished for two people.
Named for the late Bill Malthouse, a former scholarship recipient, the new house will be built just a few yards away and will house an additional 17 students.
“You gain a lot of adult skills through this house. You have to manage your own money, you have to know how to do these things, but you don’t have to do it alone,” said Stone. “Seventeen other people are going to experience what I have had and they will be as grateful as I am.”
The Bill & Nancy Malthouse-Pilot Scholarship House will be the Southern Scholarship Foundation’s 27th home in Florida. They have helped more than 10,000 students since the 1950s, and 80% of participants leave school debt free. The house is slated to open in fall 2022.
Learn more about the Southern Scholarship Foundation here.