Grady Young was a man who was deeply involved in the Hall County community. He served on a number of county and city boards and commissions while also being a deacon at his church, Cross Plains Missionary Baptist Church, before passing away in 2003.
And students across the county can thank him for raising his son, Charles Young, in a way that encouraged him to start a foundation to provide college scholarships for students in Hall.
The Grady Young Foundation started in 1998 as a pretty small operation, but since then, after becoming incorporated in 2004 and establishing a board of directors, it has grown, and now provides scholarships at every high school in the county and city and across the state.
“A total of 16 different scholarships are available each year for deserving high school students,” said Charles Young, chairman of the foundation.
This year marks the 15th anniversary of the foundation’s incorporation, which it considers a major milestone. As a celebration, the foundation hosted its annual Grady Young Foundation Memorial Scholarship Weekend, with the theme “Gifts That Keep on Giving,” where community and nonprofit organizations were honored.
“Sponsors and donors in the community are very supportive,” Charles Young said. “We have a number of family friends and community persons and organizations that know the work we’re trying to do and have been very supportive of our efforts.”
Throughout the weekend, money was raised to help support the foundation further through a golf tournament, a gospel music extravaganza that featured the Savannah State University Wesleyan Gospel Choir and a brunch for fathers and sons, mothers and daughters.
At is annual scholarship gala Saturday night, it planned to recognize and award nonprofits in the area that have supported the foundation over the years. Each organization was given a plaque that showed the foundation’s appreciation.
Charles Young has always been involved in different scholarship ventures since he received one himself. After that, he knew he wanted to pay it forward. After he earned some money, he decided to start the foundation, named for his father.
“I thought that establishing a foundation would help generate interest in our community here in Gainesville and Hall County and hopefully help a number of families and students who were really trying to get in schools,” Charles Young said.
The board of directors really helped get the foundation off the ground in 2004 and in the years following by helping it raise more and more funds to provide scholarships for students.
“I got involved because it is part of my family,” said Gwennell Brown, chairperson of the scholarship gala and vice principal at New Holland Knowledge Academy. “I have an interest in higher education, because I’m in it myself, too. I value the importance of continuing education for our children.”
The most difficult task for the foundation is maintaining its funding. Raising enough money to provide scholarships for students is difficult, making the gala so important.
“At some point, I hope that we can be more self-sufficient so that we can give students more money,” Brown said.
“It’s always that thought of how to raise enough funds to make sure you continue to do what you’re trying to do each year,” Charles Young said. “The fundraising aspect has always been a challenge because we are asking funds from the public.”
Even with that a challenge, Charles Young said he promises to handle things the same way his father did.
“(He was) always trying to make sure that youth were involved,” Charles Young said. “To the point that they got the resources they needed in order to achieve what they wanted.”