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Scholarships | Ryan Wells Foundation


Past scholarship winners


“Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.” – Julia Child

The Ryan Wells Foundation strives to identify the most passionate Pinellas County students and invests in their continued education. Student scholarships for post-secondary education in the fields of culinary arts and hospitality represent 50 to 60% of the Ryan Wells Foundation’s annual funding.

From 2006 to-date, the Ryan Wells Foundation has awarded scholarships to 132 high school students in Pinellas County in the amount of $873,000.  Scholarship amounts range from $500 up to $20,000, with a $6,000 average in recent years.  Scholarships are dispersed over a 2-year or 4-year period to ensure a student’s graduation and long-term success rate.  Students must enroll in a post-secondary institution within 1 year of high school graduation and can use the scholarship funds for items billable by the institution.

In a survey conducted in 2013, 18 out of 24 scholarship recipients had graduated or were currently earning a degree in a culinary or hospitality field from institutions including the Culinary Institute of America, Johnson and Wales University, and University of Central Florida’s Rosen College of Hospitality.  Degrees awarded included Baking and Pastry, Food Service Management, Hospitality & Tourism Management, and Event Management.  Several students who did not complete or had yet to complete post-secondary education, were employed in the industry as a pastry chef, line cook, cake decorator, resort manager, and catering and sales manager.

Haylee Shaddock, a 2012 scholarship recipient who recently graduated from the Culinary Institute of America, recognizes the value of the scholarship commenting it

will definitely help me further my education at The Culinary Institute of America, which will then help me get closer to my dream job. The scholarship gives me a sense of motivation to keep up all my studies and get good grades. This scholarship also gives me a great sense of pride.  It is a true honor to receive this scholarship.”


Scholarship applicants must meet the following criteria to be eligible for consideration:

  • a graduating high school senior with 3 or more semesters of culinary or hospitality courses at Dixie Hollins High, Northeast High, Osceola High, or Tarpon Springs High or dual enrollment in the culinary program at the Clearwater or St.Petersburg campus of Pinellas Technical College
  • minimum 2.5 GPA
  • extracurricular and volunteer activities are highly looked upon

Those meeting the criteria must:

  • submit an online application through the Pinellas Education Foundation website by each year’s deadline
  • submit a 300 word essay on their future industry plans
  • submit 1-2 letters of recommendation
  • complete a face-t0-face interview with Ryan Wells Foundation board members

Industry Partners

The Ryan Wells Foundation is proud to partner with several organizations and individuals to make our Scholarship Program a success.

We are honored to partner with Johnson & Wales University and Keiser University, two higher-education institutions offering degrees in culinary arts and/or hospitality,  for annual scholarship matching. More details about post-secondary institutions and available industry scholarships can be found on the Student Resource page (insert link).

The Pinellas Education Foundation houses all scholarship funds and disperses them directly to a student’s institution and ensures students meet annual requirements for renewal.

Chef and Restaurant Owner Chris Ponte of Cafe Ponte offers an annual scholarship award of $5,000.


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