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History of The Sam R. Ratcliff Charitable Foundation

The Sam R. Ratcliff Charitable Foundation was formed in 2002 for the purpose of furthering the education of high school graduating seniors. Originally First Interstate Bank, Trust Department, handled the administration and the money along with the Board of Directors. The Foundation
awarded a scholarship to graduating high school seniors from Campbell County. Annually, at least one scholarship was awarded from 2004 forward. Sam died in 2011 and, the bulk of his estate was put in his Foundation and the Board of Directors took over the administration of the Foundation. First Interstate Bank continued handling the money and investing. Until 2017, money allowed scholarships to be awarded to
just a few students; but the money was growing from oil and gas, ranching, and from investments so more scholarships were able to be awarded.
The past few years, we have received up to 150 applications annually for scholarships and the number of scholarships rewarded varied. The amounts of the scholarships also varied from $750 per year to $2000.00 per year. We also fund our returning students; and they reapply as
college students, have acceptable grades, and go to school full time. We award them to an amount greater than we give the first year scholarships. We will fund the returning scholarship students up to their bachelor’s degree or 5 years. In 2019, we gave $2,000 per year to the returning scholarships and $1,200 to the graduating high school students. We also gave a $750.00 scholarship to ten graduating high school students who impressed the Scholarship Committee. All scholarships were awarded to deserving students in Campbell County. All were awarded indiscriminately, based on scores for ACT, grade point averages, need, suitability of goals, class rank, written statements and personal descriptions. The Sam R. Ratcliff Charitable Foundation’s goal is to inspire students who might not otherwise get a scholarship or other community encouragement. We have an Evaluation Committee of community business members to read through the scholarship applications and score them. The winners are awarded scholarships of varying amounts every year. The money is sent to the student’s college of choice and is returned if not used. In 2020, the By-Laws were changed to allow students graduating in Crook, Weston, and Johnson Counties (all in the Powder River Basin), WY, to participate in scholarships. Thirty-five scholarships were awarded totaling $60,000.00 to students in the four counties that year. So you can see the amount of income determines the number and amount of scholarships. This depends on the price of oil and gas and other factors.

As long as the oil prices stay moderately high, the oil and gas industry retains interest in the Powder River Basin, and the stock market allows the bank to make money for us, the Foundation should have sufficient funds to keep awarding multiple scholarships for many, many, many years to come.