Three high school students submitted three big ideas to the Ahwatukee Chamber Charity Foundation with hopes of being selected for a brand new college scholarship. On Wednesday the foundation presented a $4,000 scholarship to Spencer Elliott of Mountain Pointe High School, and a $500 scholarship to Josh Greene and Emily Pawlik, both Desert Vista students.

The Ahwatukee Chamber Charity Foundation is a group formed from the Ahwatukee Foothills Chamber of Commerce to support different events and charities within the Ahwatukee community. Their first venture was creating a merit-based scholarship for college-bound high school seniors.

The students were asked to write a business plan for a sustainable community event that would create an awareness of the foundation.

“Here we are all these busy community people and we’re trying to dictate what will be best for this community that already has a lot of unique things going on,” said Katherine Christensen, chairman of the foundation board. “We thought who is succeeding us is the children of our community. We decided to reach out to them in a professional way and ask them to help us find ways to create events or activities that will be sustainable in the future.”

The ideas were all evaluated on how realistic they are, creativity and uniqueness. Elliott’s plan had to do with the foundation’s scholarship. He suggested breaking it down from one $5,000 scholarship to three scholarships for three different students to reach more students and create more awareness for the foundation. His plan also included a fundraising mechanism to keep the scholarship running annually.

Pawlik’s idea was to partner high school students with local businesses to form internships

“It’s really trying to bring schools, chamber and businesses all together,” she said.

Greene’s idea was to bring businesses and the community together for a run.

“I thought everyone runs in Ahwatukee so we might as well,” he said. “My final project was 11 pages of a business plan. I was up for a while doing it, but it was a good experience… It’s definitely a good opportunity to learn outside of the classroom. I felt really involved in the community and that I could potentially make a difference, so it was a good experience.”

All three students have decided to go to Arizona State University after graduation. Elliott, who also recently received the Flinn Scholarship, will be studying business entrepreneurship. He already owns two businesses and would like to expand those and create others and be able to work for himself. Greene will be studying architecture. He said he dreams of building highly environmentally friendly homes. Pawlik will be studying hospitality and tourism, building on an internship she has been completing at KCA, a local event planning and public relations company.

The students were each paired with a local business leader to help mentor them through the project. Each student had to present their final project to the foundation board and each project was evaluated by a board of business leaders. Christensen said each idea will be dissected from here to see which components they might use in the future. Elliott’s idea to split one large scholarship into three has already been embraced.

“I’m so proud that we have come to this fruition,” Christensen said. “I’m so proud of the students that jumped on it… To see these young people presenting their concepts and ideas in front of business people, and these are impressive business people, I was so impressed. They all did a fabulous job.”

The Ahwatukee Chamber Charity Foundation has a broad mission because it hopes to help with a lot of different needs in the community. Christensen said they’re looking for more community members to join the board. For more information, call (480) 753-7676.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or

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