By Kathy L Collins

The Bailey Family Foundation was established in May of 1997 by Ron K. Bailey with the mission to provide high school seniors with scholarships. The foundation strives to provide a $20,000 scholarship ($5,000 per year for each year that the student remains enrolled in college) to a senior from every high school, public and private, in Hillsborough, Polk and Pinellas Counties. Since its inception, the foundation has given $2 million annually to fund more than 400 scholarships.

Bailey is the former president of Strayer University. He is credited with turning the struggling Strayer College into the thriving Strayer University. He retired in 2001 and resides in Plant City. Bailey said, “Our primary mission is to promote post secondary education through high school scholarships.”

Over the years, multiple students from the greater Brandon area have applied for and received scholarships from the Bailey Family Foundation.

Ashley Phelps graduated from Riverview High School in 2006. Thanks to the scholarships she received, Phelps graduated from the University of South Florida with a B.S. in Elementary Education and an M.A. in Reading Education. Phelps now teaches middle school reading at Winthrop Charter School in Riverview.

Phelps said, “Without the Bailey Family Foundation, I would have had an incredibly difficult time affording to go to college. The Bailey Family Foundation paid all of my undergraduate tuition (done in three-and-a-half years) and I was able to go on to graduate school with minimal debt.”

Allison Schneider, a graduate of Bloomingdale High School and a junior at the University of Florida, said, “A college education is so expensive. I had no idea that I could receive as much help as I do from the Bailey Family Foundation.” Schneider lost her mother to cancer the year before her senior year but was still able to graduate with a 5.5 GPA. Schneider added, “There are no words for a foundation like the Bailey Family Foundation. They support you and want you to do well.”

The application period is Tuesday, January 1-Friday, March 15. Applications are available online at


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