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The Few, the Proud

Craig Sundquist and Rob Brooks, Colorado MCSF members meeting at The Country Club at Castle Pines.

Article and photo by Joe Gschwendtner

Our Castle Pines community is blessed with a large cadre of givers. One of the most remarkable is the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation (MCSF), whose annual fundraising golf tournament will be at the Inverness Golf Course on August 6th. The Foundation celebrated its 50th year in 2012. Since 1962, it has raised more than $70,000,000, subsidizing college educations of more than 30,000 deserving children of Marines or Navy Corpsmen that served with Marines.

No Colorado Chapter existed until former Marine Captain Rob Brooks migrated to Castle Pines Village from Dallas in 1998. Brooks saw the possibilities and started from scratch. Fortunately, he recruited Roger Ryman a retired Marine colonel, and launched the effort with a two-man base. After six months of grueling organizational and development work, they fielded the first tournament at Heritage Eagle Bend in 2003.

Some history is in order. The Marine Corps is a breed apart. One generally chooses to be a Marine and must meet extraordinary physical standards. Marine esprit de corps is legendary. So strong the saying goes that “once a Marine, (you are) always a Marine.” In fact, in an utterly benign sense, a Marine is of a cult that refuses defeat no matter the cost. Not to be confused with small, elite, limited mission sub-forces like Navy Seals or Army Rangers, the Marines are a unique branch of the military tucked within the Navy budget. Today the Corps is 202,000 strong.

No arm of military service has a fundraising organization comparable to the MCSF. Nor does the foundation consist of simple subsidies. For 2013, 2,000 students will receive more than $6,000,000. Additionally, the Foundation guarantees that all children of Marines killed in action will receive, when needed, up to $30,000 a year for their college education, no matter the family size! It is a lean, pure-need organization, with 88 percent of all funds raised going to scholarship recipients.

Non-profits can be notoriously bereft of expense controls. Fortunately, Colorado charter member retired Colonel Burrell Landes developed organizational guidelines that established lean efficiency and performance metrics. The program, now used by all chapters nationwide, contributes to MCSF’s Charity Navigators four-star award, a best of class and size rating.

I asked former chapter chair, Marine Craig Sundquist to capture the passion and astonishing success evident in the Foundation. He reduces it Marine-style, crystal clear, to two words: “Semper Fi,” (always faithful).

For more information about the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, visit www.marine-scholars.org.

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