Sammamish X in Bellevue Reporter

Check out the coverage in the Bellevue Reporter!

2016 Recipients (06/16) –

Scholarship Launch (12/16) –

Sammamish alumni creating scholarships for first-generation college students

Sammamish High School alumni are joining forces to establish a scholarship to help send first-generation college students to college.

The Sammamish X Scholarship Fund will provide financial support to graduating seniors who will be first-generation college students and  who are seen as both leaders and scholars in their class and embody the spirit of Sammamish High School.

“To me, it’s for someone who really wants to get involved in activities, someone who really cares about the school in all aspects,” said Dan Blau.

The ‘X factor’ of the scholarship, as Blau calls it, is the focus on first generation college students.

Approximately 40 percent of Sammamish students will be the first in their family to attend college, according to the Sammamish PTSA and Sammamish Totems Enrichment and Program Support. A study by the Partnership for 21st Century Learning put the number of first generation college students at almost half of Sammamish’s student body.

“I think the kind of X factor would be that first generation college student… (the number of first-generation students coming from Sammamish) really made an impression on us, and I think the reason for doing a scholarship in Bellevue is because people assume people in Bellevue has money, but there are students who need help,” said Dan Blau, a Sammamish High School alumnus who is spearheading the scholarship.

The school also has a sizeable share of students receiving free or reduced lunches — around 40 percent.

“Given that 40-45% of SHS qualify for FRL the fact that SHS sends somewhere between 80-90% of their students on to some kind of post-secondary education is astounding,” former Sammamish teacher and current Visiting Assistant Professor of Education at Pacific Lutheran University Paul Sutton wrote to Blau in an email.

Just before attending his 10-year high school reunion, Blau and his friend Winston Lofton decided to use the leverage of the event to start raising funds for the scholarship. The pair wanted to give back to their high school, and a scholarship was deemed the easiest and direct way to do so.

“The main goal was just to start a tradition. We didn’t want this to be a one-time thing, so next year we’re hoping the class after ours will carry it on. It’s all about creating a lasting legacy,” Blau said.

As they began to reach out to other alumni, they found that this was not the first time former students have contemplating starting a scholarship for students, Blau said.

Quickly, around 30 alums from various graduating classes banded together to jumpstart the scholarship. Blau and Winston have been joined by former students from the 2003 and 2004 graduating classes, as well as from the 2006 and 2007 graduating classes who will soon be celebrating their own 10 year reunions.

Anyone interested in donating can find more information at: