Bankrupt donor and broken dreams
Maybe it should have sounded too good to begin with. In 2005, a millionaire named John B. Smith, Jr. announced the creation of an annual $100,000 grant called the Laureate Award for seniors at his alma mater of Delsea Regional High School.
Smith Jr. grew up on a large family farm, which he turned into a windfall of $1.6 million when he inherited it and sold to developers.
Students could choose how to apply the $100,000 award - either toward personal or professional development or educational costs. In 2005, two students received the award. Last year, only one student was named.
An article appeared in the Courier Post Online on January 3rd with news the donor was reneging on his pledge. This weekend, the Philadelphia Inquirer picked up the story:
In an interview, Smith denied that the funds would not be available in the future. "We're in a position where we'll have to suspend the activities of the award for the time being. Clearly this is a hiatus of sorts," he said.
Smith would not discuss the nature of his financial difficulties or his agreements with the students.
"I have great apologies to express at this point," he said, "and find it very unfortunate and am doing the best I can to seek a resolution to these matters."
Hiatus indeed. The article describes how a parent of the one of the students had to confront Smith after failing to receive a payment. In fact, to date only a total of $31,250 has been paid to the three $100,000 winners.
How is it that no one checked on Smith Jr.'s finances? Why wasn't money set aside ahead of time? For their part, the students seem to be taking the news with grace... but I'm no where near as forgiving to this deadbeat donor.