Scads of grads helped by Alpine Bank

In 1996, Bob Young, Alpine Bank’s chairman and founder, went to a lot of high school graduations. He saw a clear pattern start to emerge: The kids who were college-bound, and recipients of scholarships, weren’t from Latino families. It stood out to him, because in Colorado, 21 percent of the state’s population is Latino. At that time Alpine Bank had been in existence for 23 years, largely in the state’s mountain communities — and its influence, number of branches and balance sheet were growing. 

Bob decided to try to change the status quo for Latino students. He reached out to Alexandra Yajko, who at that time was the dean of college relations and CEO of the Colorado Mountain College Foundation. Bob explained his observation, and pitched his idea for a Latino-Hispanic Scholarship for Colorado Mountain College (CMC). 

“These kids needed to have a break,” Bob says. “And I thought we could find a way to get them a scholarship.”

That break started with six students who were each awarded two years of tuition, fees, and books at CMC. At the 25-year mark in 2021, the scholarship had grown geometrically alongside the CMC footprint, helping 266 students in total with nearly a half million dollars in financial support. There were a total of 184 degrees or certificates earned at CMC, 46 earned elsewhere, and four master’s degrees.

As Alpine Bank has continued to grow over the past 49 years, from the Western Slope to Colorado’s Front Range, its support of aspiring scholars has grown too. So in 2021, what started as the Latino-Hispanic Scholarship evolved into the First-Generation Scholarship.

That scholarship’s purpose is to open doors to qualified first-generation college-bound students (meaning those whose parents didn’t complete a college degree). Scholarships support the cost of in-district tuition, books and fees to students who are pursuing an associate or bachelor’s degree, and who would otherwise not be able to attend college. The Alpine Bank First-Generation Scholarship now invites people of all ethnicities to apply; the applicant just needs to be the first in their family to pursue higher learning. The program is offered in partnership with CMC, the Denver Scholarship Foundation and Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction. Now in its second year, in 2022 it made 23 scholarship awards to graduating seniors in Colorado.

Larry Stewart, VP of Alpine Bank Rifle, said that during the interview with 2022 Rifle High School grad Jessica Navarro, it was evident she was a hardworking young adult with a bright future ahead. “She started working at McDonalds about two years and worked her way into a supervisor role,” he says. “She’s already developing her own leadership style. Whichever path Jessica chooses, she will be ready to do big things!” Jessica will study business at CMC. 

Angela Martinez Govea, a 2022 graduate of Roaring Fork High School in Carbondale, will study in the highly selective CMC nursing program. “Through her young life she has overcome diversity and hardships which became the catalyst for her decision to pursue a future working with children, and guiding families through medical treatments,” says Basalt banking officer Bentley Reist. “She is so hardworking and devoted to her family and friends. Angela shared that although life isn’t easy, if you put your mind to it you can do many things with the support of your family.”

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