EDWARDS — One of the Vail Valley’s most beloved philanthropists is extending his embrace west to Grand Junction as a new member of the board of trustees for Colorado Mesa University.
Ron Davis launched Guardian Scholars and My Future Pathways, education philanthropies that focus on mentoring first-generation students and others through high school and college. He has worked closely with CMU.
“CMU takes their commitment to serving first-generation and minority students seriously, and this seriousness was a decision point in my desire to serve as a CMU trustee,” Davis said.
Their own cheering section
Davis is no stranger to Colorado Mesa University’s commencement ceremonies. The Guardian Scholars and My Future Pathways programs help put so many students through CMU that they have their own seating section.
Along with scholarships, the Vail Valley-based nonprofits often act like a family for their students. It sometimes starts when they’re in middle school and high school, and continues as they work their way through college.
“Using family references to describe our kids isn’t an accident,” Davis said. “When students feel they have the kind of support behind them that goes beyond money, it gives these kids a sense of security to take risks and grow by challenging themselves.”
My Future Pathways and Guardian Scholars do not supplant families, they support families, Davis said.
“The greatest gift any individual can have is loving, supportive and caring parents. Many are not so fortunate,” Davis said. “Guardian Scholars and My Future Pathways can never replace parents, but it does provide the love, encouragement and support in collaboration with parents.”
College was Davis’ catalyst
Davis said college was the catalyst for changing his life. The Guardian Scholar and My Future Pathways programs are some of the ways he tries to pay that forward, he said. The lives of scholarship recipients improve, they help improve people’s lives and the world improves.
Davis and his wife Lucy live in the Vail Valley and serve alongside the people they call “Guardian Angels.” The angels are fellow philanthropists who serve with the Davis family as program donors and mentors to Guardian Scholarship recipients.
Right now there are nearly 40 local high school graduates being served by the programs, many who attend CMU. Of specific interest to Davis are those who have returned to the Vail Valley to begin their post-college life and careers.
“They return home with the skills and talents they acquire from CMU, and this trend enhances the lives of their families as well as the communities they are returning to,” CMU Foundation CEO Liz Meyer said. “This trend is one that I know Mr. Davis is proud of as the program has evolved through the years.”
Davis rose to the upper echelons of American business. He founded the program in 1998 at Cal State Fullerton and expanded it into Eagle County several years ago. Guardian Scholars is now at 70 colleges across America. Because of his experience as a CEO and investor, Davis is a results-oriented philanthropist.
“My affinity for CMU is that the campus is one of results,” Davis said. “Measurable, seeable, knowable results that serve students is why I wanted to join the CMU family as a trustee.”
CMU President Tim Foster said he’s thrilled to have Davis on the CMU board.
“The addition of Davis to the CMU board is a nice capstone to his years of championing first-generation students who are also a primary focus of CMU,” Foster said. “The Guardian Scholars program has helped shape the values of CMU in relation to students who are first in their families to attend college. Ron’s role on CMU’s governing board will continue to help us serve first-generation college students and their families.”
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