Kelleher International Scholarship Winners

Sir Richard Branson has planted the seed inspiring Kelleher International to pay it forward. In 2018 Kelleher invited students to submit essays for the Kelleher International scholarship fund.

“We had such an amazing response to our question ‘How can philanthropy change the world?’ that we decided to award not one, but two, amazing students for their commitment to becoming a force for good in their communities and the world,” Founder Jill Kelleher and CEO Amber Kelleher-Andrews explained.

“Many of the 342 essays submitted defined philanthropy or discussed how icons like Bill Gates, Andrew Carnegie, Warren Buffett, and Oprah Winfrey impact the world with philanthropy. What stood out to us was the fact that these two young ladies have truly embodied philanthropy in their own lives at such a young age, each in a personal way, by putting their passions to work helping others. Their philanthropic efforts are changing their corners of the world.” says Amber.

Our first Kelleher International scholarship winner has a heart-warming story of giving – perfect for the holiday season. Gina Upholzer shows us that the spirit of giving is contagious and a single inspired action can ripple through a community uniting people around a cause.

“Thank you for this opportunity,” Upholzer says. “The Kelleher International Scholarship will impact my paying for college and provide the space to continue working towards my goals.”

Gina’s path into philanthropy began at the young age of three and has grown since.

Please read Gina Upholzer’s scholarship essay submission below and consider some small gift you might share with those less fortunate in your community in the new year.

Philanthropy is something that has always been very important to me. Starting at a very young age, my parents taught me about giving to others. It started when I was just three years old, my parents would take me shopping for gifts I would like to receive, and then we would give them to our local “Toys for Tots” drive. By the time I was in 4th grade, I already knew the importance of philanthropy. When my father decided to participate in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk, I knew that I wanted to do something to help him raise money.

At the time I loved making Duck Tape purses, and I had the idea of making and selling them, with all of the profit going towards the cause. Thinking this would be a small project, my parents decided they would support my philanthropic efforts by purchasing the needed Duck Tape. I would sell them door-to-door, and my parents posted my fundraiser on Facebook and eBay. Within a couple of weeks, the online sales started to take off, and I was noticed by Fox 8 News in Cleveland, Ohio. After I was interviewed on Fox 8 News in The Morning, I received calls from many local newspapers and from ShurTech brands (Duck Tape) which donated all the supplies I would need for the duration of the fundraiser. This allowed 100% of the remainder of sales to go directly to Susan G. Komen.

Over the course of several months, I was able to sell close to 1,000 purses. I received letters of support and orders from as far away as London, England, and the majority of the people donated more than the $5 purchase price, which lead to the $9,000 in total donation.

My dedication to philanthropy didn’t stop there. When I was 6th grade, my grandmother passed away from breast cancer, and we found several wicker baskets and small (new) stuffed animals at her house. I immediately knew what I wanted to do with them. I gathered donations from my neighborhood of crayons, pencils, candies, and small trinkets and created over forty easter baskets. I donated the baskets that I made to the local women and children shelter so that they would have Easter baskets.

Since the 7th grade, I started volunteering at the local animal protective league as an off-site adoption specialist. Once a month I help find rescued animals “forever homes.” I enjoy finding these animals homes that will love them and treat them properly, especially after they have been abused and neglected.

The act of one person giving has a ripple effect, and the benefits go far beyond the initial person, or people, on the receiving end. All of these experiences showed me the importance of philanthropy and how everyone, regardless of age or status, can make an impact. I believe that being philanthropic makes you not only a citizen of your community but a citizen of the world.

The second student, Lily Sweet King, receives the Kelleher International scholarship for her grassroots efforts in shining light on racism and separateness by gathering fellow students in a unique way to promote unity and civil discourse.

“Philanthropy and giving back is a big part of who I am,” explains King. “Through my passion of hospitality, I decided to plan and host The Longest Table: Class of 2018, an event where 110 high school students gathered for dinner and meaningful conversation regarding differences amongst our community.

If I win the Kelleher International Scholarship, I will put the money towards furthering my education in hopes to someday give back in an even bigger way.”

Lily Sweet King’s bright and hopeful submission is below for you to enjoy.

If you give this girl a scholarship,

she’s going to scream and jump.

A $2,500 scholarship means 250 hours LESS

that she’ll have to work at her job

to pay for tuition.

With all her extra time,

she’ll get busy studying.

She already has good grades,

but now she’ll have the luxury of completing assignments

in thoughtful study sessions instead of on the fly.

Realizing that this will send her GPA soaring,

she’ll do a happy dance.

While she’s dancing, her afternoon labs come to mind.

No more rushing

from work and illegally parking to make it on time.

She’ll be the first one to class and have time to linger after,

asking those questions she never got a chance to before.

Speaking of questions, she’s going to wonder

how else she can spend all of this newfound time

afforded to her from this generous scholarship.

This girl isn’t all work and no play,

so she’ll buckle down and do more volunteering.

She’s got a knack for hospitality and a creative streak,

plus she believes strongly in bringing people with

different experiences together to solve community problems.

Because she’s a doer as well as a dreamer,

this girl has already persuaded the Chancellor at her school,

The University of Mississippi,

to let her host a LONGEST TABLE event this spring

to promote unity and civil discourse.

She thinks it will be a good first step in combating

racist incidents that have occurred

on campus this fall.

Racism makes her sad; parties make her happy.

There will be no party bigger than the day when

this girl walks across the stage,

diploma in hand,

ready to change

her little corner of the world.

Change doesn’t happen overnight,

so she’ll work hard to learn on the job.

She’ll find mentors to guide her.

She will stay late and come in early.

But the day will come when she finally

has more paycheck than bills

and she’ll remember that $2,500 scholarship

and how it gave her breathing room

and a safety net.

Her heart will flood with thankfulness

for the kindness and philanthropy

shown to her in her college career,

and then she will scream and jump.


Because of a $2,500 scholarship,

she got a head start.

And now, she can do the same

for another student working odd jobs

and studying on the fly.

Because when you give this girl a scholarship,

she’s going to pay it forward.

Through your philanthropy,

she, herself, will become a philanthropist.

And that is how this girl is going to change

her little corner of the world.

Congratulations, Gina Upholzer and Lily Sweet King! We look forward to seeing how far you go and how your efforts make this world a better place. The Kelleher International team is rooting for you.

Within this Kelleher International scholarship fund, our goal is to create opportunities that empower young people to take active philanthropic roles in their communities. We want to remove some of the financial and time burdens that often come with attending college, participating in campus organizations, and working to live and have a “normal” college experience.

“What a gift it’s been to receive such hope and inspiration from hundreds of young people ready to change the world in their unique ways,” beams Amber Kelleher-Andrews.

Here is how you can play Matchmaker!

If you, too, are inspired, consider MATCHING our efforts or donating whatever amount you feel moved to give.  Please make donations to our Kelleher International Scholarship Fund by Valentines Day, February 14, 2019.  Email [email protected] to get involved.

One hundred percent of the proceeds will go directly to the Scholarship recipients.

Gina and Lily are thrilled with our donation to their education fund, but imagine what we can do together to help them and others on their path to becoming great Philanthropists.

May 2019 bring you love and happiness. ❤️❤️❤️

HAPPY NEW YEAR from Kelleher International.