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Realtors Making a Difference

Now in its fifth year, the Vail Board of Realtors® Foundation scholarship provides opportunities for students in higher education.

Vail Board of Realtors® Foundation scholarship provides opportunities.

In the words of Malcolm X, “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.” To foster the next generation, the Vail Board of Realtors® Foundation (VBRF) created its annual academic scholarship fund to support local students aspiring to higher education.

The VBR Foundation helps promote community efforts for the Vail Board of Realtors® (VBR), a professional organization dedicated to the successful practice of the real estate profession within Eagle County. The mission of the VBRF is to support the community, nonprofit organizations and VBR members with need-based financial assistance, education, and disaster relief.

In 2022, the VBR Foundation’s scholarship supported 25 dedicated Eagle County students. Each student received up to $2,000 in funds to attend a college, university or accredited educational institution of higher learning.

Leah Dudley is one of the 25 scholarship recipients and a new student at the University of Arizona. Dudley is following her passion, and familyLeah Dudley, scholarship recipient history, by studying nursing.

“My grandmother is one of my biggest role models,” says Dudley. “Growing up, she would tell me stories about her adventures in nursing. Mostly about the good days and the different places nursing took her, as well as some of the dynamics within a hospital setting. After hearing these stories, I revealed my passion for nursing as well.”

Motivated to learn more about the nursing field, Dudley began taking specialized courses while attending Eagle Valley High School, including dual enrollment courses through Colorado Mountain College. Upon reaching her high school graduation, she earned her Certified Nursing Assistant license and participated in an internship with a local physical therapy clinic.

The scholarship funds that support students like Dudley are raised through the VBR Foundation’s fundraising efforts, including an annual holiday party hosted by the VBR that exclusively raises funds for the scholarship. In fact, the bulk of financial support for the Foundation comes directly from VBR members.

Encouraging Involvement and Philanthropy

Community involvement is a core principle of the Vail Board of Realtors®. In addition to being professionals helping home buyers and sellers through the real estate market, Realtors® are neighbors and community members supporting local causes through volunteering time, money, and resources.

Several Realtors® volunteer their time to serve on the VBR Foundation Board and the Scholarship Committee. This includes the Committee Chair Ann Foster.

Ann Foster, 2022 Scholarship Committee chairFoster has been a member of the VBR since 2007. Now that her children have grown and started their adult lives, she has the opportunity to dedicate more time to committees and causes supported by the VBR that she believes in.

“I enjoy leading this committee. It’s very fulfilling,” explains Foster. “I want to make a difference in the lives of our young people and giving back to our local students is important to me. My fellow real estate brokers and VBR members encouraged me to get involved in this program and I look forward to seeing what this next year brings.”

Foster leads a committee of about six members. The application review process is entirely anonymous to ensure there is no bias in our relatively small community, and awards are based on merit and fulfillment of criteria.

Lifting Up the Community

Fortuitously, the committee can assist students like Dudley at a time of rising college costs.

“Because I am attending the University of Arizona as an out-of-state student, there are some heavy costs,” says Dudley. “So, receiving this scholarship has helped me relieve stress and allowed me to be able to focus on my academics. I am able to reach my goals and live up to the dream of becoming a nurse just as my grandmother did.”

In addition to scholarships, the VBRF gave over $33,000 in 2022 to 14 nonprofits serving the Eagle County community and gave financial support to local families and individuals in need due to emergency circumstances. Community members affected by a catastrophic illness or accident are encouraged to apply for emergency funds with the VBRF.

Foster has been a part of fundraising efforts like the holiday party. The event includes an online silent auction featuring themed gift baskets, and members of the public are also invited to bid. Each basket is created and donated by individual real estate offices, with each office trying to be the most creative. VBR Affiliate members, businesses who are in real estate-related fields, also participate in the fun.

The VBR Foundation also looks forward to Colorado Gives Day, an annual online day of giving across the state. The community can visit on or before December 6 to contribute to its nonprofit of choice, including the VBRF.

For Dudley, completing her studies is both looking to the future, and honoring her past by following the career path of her grandmother.

“I still continue to have conversations with her about her adventures in this field, and she never fails to make it interesting and inspiring,” adds Dudley. “I am proud to say that my grandmother has helped me find my connection to my future through nursing. She continues to inspire me to work hard and grow as an individual to become a distinguished nurse like her.”

See how the Vail Board of Realtors® Foundation supports our community by visiting