Enid, Okla. – Half a million dollars aims to give more Enid High School alumni a clear path to mutual higher education Friday at the home of a retired employer.
Enid resident Ray Davis donated the second and final installment of a $1 million scholarship to memorialize his late children to the Enid Public School Foundation, a year earlier than planned.
Funds from the Foundation’s Vicki and Kevin Davis scholarship will continue to give EHS seniors $40,000 each, or $5,000 per semester, to attend Oklahoma State University or Northern Oklahoma College, according to the foundation.
Davis signed and presented the $500,000 check to EPSF CEO Jana Jackson in his home office Friday morning. Several district officials sitting nearby, and then all of them, applauded the gift.
“Jana, I hope it works,” Davis said with a laugh. I warned them (at the bank) that it would happen. …I told them, ‘Don’t take it back. “
It works every time, Jackson told him, also laughing.
The scholarship is awarded to EHS seniors who have successfully participated in the scholarship program of the same name at the University Center and are scheduled to attend OSU or NOC in the fall. Seniors planning to attend CareerTech are also encouraged to apply, according to EPS.
Jackson said the money will cover any education-related expenses that pass through the college scholarship account, such as tuition, fees, books and on-campus living expenses.
Scholarship applications for the Class of 2022 are due to be submitted to the Office of the Environmental, Health and Safety Adviser by January 26, 2022.
With how much college tuition and other expenses cost nowadays, Davis said award-winning students will be responsible for “filling the void” with other money like Pell Grants, loans or other scholarships.
“It’s going to go on for a while, and hopefully that will drive more kids, and they’ll end up doing something with their education and making success out of whatever life they want,” he said. “It’s good that these guys have a way to get to what they want to do.”
EPS Supervisor, Daryl Floyd, was present Friday, along with District Chief Financial Officer Sam Robinson and Assistant Superintendent Dudley Darrow, to thank Davis for the ongoing contribution.
“He’s very generous,” Floyd said. “He helped a lot of kids.”
With the additional donation, Jackson said, the foundation could double the number of high school alumni who received scholarships.
Davis donated the initial $500,000 scholarship to the foundation in 2019, referring to the past three years as Phase 1. All nine EHS alumni who received the scholarship are still in college—four freshmen, three sophomores, and two freshmen.
“There are going to be some real good outcomes,” he said of the students. “They have something going for them. They will go a long way.”
Davis, the former owner of the Comfort Inn of Enid, attributed the grant’s eventual creation to a story in News & Eagle about an EPS school board meeting in May 2013.
According to News & Eagle, then-supervisor Sean Heim told board members that the EPS Foundation would begin fundraising efforts to cover fees for students studying at the college level at the planned university center.
However, EPS was also expecting a significant reduction in the budget for 2014 due to cuts in both state and federal funding, Heim said.
After reading the story, Davis said he met with then-CEO of EPSF, Jennifer Fields, for several months about how to help fund the university’s center scholarship program.
He recounted that he eventually told Fields, “Why don’t I just write you a check for $14,000, and you start with it?” And so it began.”
Davis later increased this donation to $314,000, a grant for students with financial needs who wish to take concurrent classes at the center. It was, at the time, the largest single donation ever made to the foundation.
Jackson said today that more than 30 EHS students are enrolled in the University Center program.
Darrow, the assistant superintendent of secondary education, said Davis’ contribution paid dividends to first-generation college students who graduated from the College of Health and Safety.
“It just gives a lot of kids a chance,” Darrow, a former director of EHS, told him. “You really change generations, you go forward, and you really are.”
Davis said he learned from his father, Perry C. Davis, who was educated in the fourth grade but worked 80 hours a week to found PC Davis Construction Co. In honor of his father and mother, Goldie, Ray Davis also established a scholarship in 2014 at the Leonardo Children’s Museum, which covers 10 years of free museum visits for children at seven EPS elementary schools.
“I learned, and of course (his son) Kevin was learning, you have to earn what you want,” Davis said. “And this is a privilege. All you need is that opportunity.”
Together, the two built 18 school buildings for EPS, Phillips University, the Autry Technology Center and other school districts in the area.
“He built this city,” said Jackson, before adding, “It still is. Just in a different way.”
More information about the scholarship or other EPS Foundation programs is available by contacting Janna Jackson at (580) 977-4592 or Foundation@enidk12.org.