Two brothers who attended USU together and started their own company while at the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business, are now paying for four scholarships each year that help single mothers get through school.
Steve and Betty Stokes and Ross and JoAnn Stokes have been contributing to help out single mothers reentering USU for years now.
Betty and Steve Stokes
Steve said they get to meet those they help and have been impressed with how dedicated these women are to their children, to the “process of advancing themselves” and with how much they want to set an example for their children about the value of education.
“I don’t understand how a single mother going back to school can raise children, study and earn enough money to pay for their schooling,” he said. “We have a place in our heart for these women and we’d like to see if we can help them.”
They started donating through the Cache Valley Chamber of Commerce that has a program that promotes women in business. Scholarship recipients, who are selected by an independent committee, can get up to two-years of assistance if they qualify for it. Steve said they admire the determination these women have to push forward and get their education despite the obstacles.
“These people aren’t looking for hand outs,” Steve said. “They are just looking for a hand up. They want to do the best they can. We recognize that we are just scratching the surface. You’d like to be able to help every one of those reentry mothers.”
Steve and Ross started Stokes Brothers while they were at the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business, a company that initially rented out used TVs to college students. Steve, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in marketing with a minor in economics in 1972, is now the CEO of Structured Finance Corporation, d.b.a. as Team Properties and Finance. Betty attended USU in 1985 and, with Steve, has raised two children. They now have six grandchildren.
Ross got his bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1975. Ross now owns a private finance company.
A team of Huntsman students prepared a Real Estate proposal last year as part of the Utah Real Estate Challenge for the possible development of a piece of Logan property owned by Steve, and the Huntsman team won first place. The students received $20,000 for their winning efforts.
Steve said he and Betty also contribute to Enterprise Mentors International, a non-profit organization that provides business training, mentoring and microfinance services to struggling entrepreneurs in developing nations.