The mission of Bootstraps, with the help of the community, is to eliminate financial barriers to higher education for students of the mountain area.
In 1945, a group of civic-minded citizens formed Evergreen Scholarship Association to recognize an outstanding graduating senior from Evergreen High School, then the only high school in the Evergreen-Conifer area. Donations from citizens, the high school PTA, and the Evergreen Women's Club raised $11,000 in seed money. In the spring of 1946, the association awarded two $150.00 two-year scholarships. The number and amount of scholarships increased as contributions grew, and the organization continued to award scholarships in May of each successive year.
In 1992, Evergreen Scholarship Association merged with Bootstraps, Inc., a local organization dedicated to giving interest-free loans to students who might have dropped through the cracks but that counselors and other school officials felt had promise. Some of the Bootstraps loans were for vocational and trade schools. This combined organization could better address the needs of student applicants by offering scholarships, loans, and a combination of both. The name became Evergreen Scholarship/Bootstraps, Inc. (ESBI).
In 1999, ESBI received a three-year $20,000 per year matching grant. This encouraged ESBI to raise additional funds by expanding a fairly new program, Create a Scholarship, which had been launched in October, 1998. The expanded program added more than 20 newly created scholarships in its first year alone, significantly expanding ESBI's ability to help students, especially those with financial need. In 2001, ESBI added the Create a Bootstraps Loan component.
In 2009, ESBI returned to it's name of Bootstraps, Inc. because it better represents the community served and the mission of the organization.
Bootstraps offers scholarships based on several criteria, including financial need, academics, leadership, community volunteerism, career choice and excellence in a variety of areas such as sports, music, and science. Loans are need-based and interest-free. Bootstraps continues to serve the school population in the articulation areas of Evergreen and Conifer High Schools and, for certain awards, in the Evergreen portion of Clear Creek County. The organization works with the counseling offices of three high schools in Evergreen, Conifer, and Clear Creek Counties to ensure that students are aware of Bootstraps' awards and know how to apply for them. Bootstraps also administers scholarships for the trust of the Mountain Protective Association, a non-profit community association otherwise disbanded in the 1970's. MPA scholarships are for students from the above-mentioned areas.
From a 2015 scholarship recipient: "I just wanted to give a huge thank you for choosing me for one of your scholarships, and for allowing my college dream to come true. You have no idea just how much I appreciate your generosity, because receiving a college education has been a very big priority of mine for a long time."
From Brenda: "Being a recipient of a Bootstraps Loan gave me faith. It gave me faith that I was smart enough to go to college and that somebody out there chose me. It was empowering to know that the community believed in me. I am proud to say I did not let my community down. I went to college, graduated with honors, and in turn have been working to be the change I wish to see in the world."