Goodyear, long a generous supporter of the All-American Soap Box Derby, made an understandable choice, opting to plow its support for education into the STEM realm, science, technology, engineering and math programs. No doubt that will benefit the city and the region.
The decision also translated into fewer scholarship dollars for the seven derby winners. As Carol Biliczky, a Beacon Journal staff writer, reported last week, the derby awarded $29,500 in scholarship money, or $15,000 less than last year.
The challenge for the community is to find a way to make up the difference, even move the amount higher. It shouldn’t be too hard.
Consider just how much the scholarships have shrunk the past five decades. Biliczky noted that between 1962 and 1973 Chevrolet annually made $30,000 available in scholarships. What might the amount be today, after adding the factor of inflation? Try $232,000. More, that $7,500 scholarship for first place in ’62, it would amount today to $58,000 in inflation-adjusted dollars, or enough to make a real dent in a college bill.
The suggestion isn’t that the community rally to such a sizable sum. At the same time, surely, it can boost the derby’s scholarship funds. Derby contestants put in much hard work. The winners should be rewarded with a scholarship that reflects their achievement, their hard work in school soon to pay off even more handsomely.