After the rejection of an operating-levy request in 2014, New Albany-Plain Local School District leaders were forced to raise pay-to-participate fees for extracurricular activities. This affected athletics and other student activities.

Many New Albanyfamilies faced difficult decisions with the higher fees.

In response to the situation, a handful of families stepped forward to establish and contribute to a New Albany Community Foundation fund to support scholarships for students who qualify.

District leaders established objective criteria based on demonstrated need. Moreover, the district implemented the program to maintain each family's confidentiality.

Since the scholarship program began, 250 students have received scholarships. The scholarships have averaged $360.

During the first two years, the pay-to-participate fees were $625 and $425, respectively, for the high school and middle school. The fees were reduced to $425 and $225 at the start of the 2016-17 school year.

While the average scholarship awarded has decreased from a high of $418 to $288, the number of recipients has remained consistent.

Just more than 100 students received scholarships over the past two years.

Despite the reduction in pay-to-participate fees last year, the need for scholarship assistance remains.

The community foundation's board of trustees, district leaders and the students and their families are grateful to all of the donors who have supported the scholarship fund.

In particular, we are grateful to the families who launched the fund and have supported it since its inception. They are: Cindy and Keith Berend; Jackie and Ken Krebs; Kelly and Mike Platte; Jane and Rich Ramsey; Lynne and Martyn Redgrave; and Jennie and Mark Wilson.

Studies show that students who participate in extracurricular activities typically perform better academically. They benefit physically, emotionally and socially.

For a significant number of students, these opportunities would not have existed without the generosity of these caring New Albany families.

As a community foundation board member, I am proud of yet another example of how the foundation serves its donors by helping them positively influence the community in thoughtful ways.

Irving Dennis is a partner with the Ernst & Young professional-services firm and serves as treasurer of the New Albany Community Foundation board of trustees.