New Chandler foundation looking for students - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

New Chandler foundation looking for students

February 11th, 2021 SanTan Sun News
New Chandler foundation looking for students

By Kevin Reagan
Staff Writer

A new Chandler-based foundation is looking for high school graduates to apply for college scholarships and join its growing network of mentors.

The Copper Forge Foundation hopes to award its first round of scholarships this spring to a couple of college-bound students planning to attend an accredited university in the fall.

Applicants must have a grade point average of at least 3.0, live in Arizona and demonstrate some level of financial need.

Jared Totolo, the foundation’s founder, said he’s specifically looking for students who may not be the first choice to receive more competitive scholarships.

The applicants don’t have to be the top student in their class, the best athlete, nor live below the poverty line, he said.

“The goal is to look for the students who fall through the cracks,” Totolo added.

The foundation wants to find hard-working students from the East Valley area who are looking for a little extra help to start their college career, he said.

Recipients will be awarded a $500 check during their first four semesters — resulting in a scholarship valued at $2,000. Recipients must maintain a full-time course load and decent grades in order to receive each installment of the award.

Recipients will additionally be mentored by a professional with knowledge and expertise in career paths they’re interested in pursuing.

Mentors will regularly meet with scholarship winners and attempt to help them get summer jobs or internships in an industry that compliments their college major.

Totolo said the mentorship component was particularly important to Copper Forger because many young people don’t have much guidance after they graduate from high school.

When the father of three first relocated to Arizona from Chicago in the 1990s, Totolo wished he would have had a mentor to help him navigate the common pitfalls felt by most college students.

He first came to Arizona State University with the dream of becoming a physical therapist, though he didn’t have much insight into what career like that fully involved.

By the time Totolo realized he probably should have changed his major, it was already too late and he had to finish his degree.

Totolo said his college experience could have been much different if a mentor had been available to help steer him in another direction.

“I fumbled and floundered a lot,“ he recalled. “I could have benefited from something like this when I came so far from home.”

Named in reference to Arizona’s favorite chemical element, Copper Forge began as a passion project for Totolo at a time when he felt compelled to start giving back to his community.

Totolo launched the foundation in 2019 after observing how his mother ran a similar scholarship program in his hometown. She spent years raising funds for single mothers looking to finish their degree and enhance their career opportunities, Totolo said.

Copper Forge wants to eventually expand its applicant pool to include a more diverse range of non-traditional students attempting to get their degree.

“The long-term goal is to add multiple scholarships underneath,” Totolo said.

Beyond the financial incentives being offered by Copper Forge’s scholarships, the foundation’s overarching goal is to help students feel better supported during a pivotal transitional phase of their lives.

“If we can kind of help shorten the learning curve for some of these kids graduating high school in a bunch of different areas, that’s what we’d like to do,” Totolo said.

Applications for the foundation’s first batch of scholarships must be submitted by April 15 and awards will be announced by this summer.

Local residents interested in joining Copper Forge’s mentorship network can fill out an application at