Tyronepa.com announces first ever scholarship contest for Tyrone and Bellwood-Antis high school seniors

Open Door Visions Production Directors Rick Gority and Ray Liddick Jr. began tyronepa.com seven years ago to provide the local community with a place to search local news and events, reconnect with friends and have a discussion forum for local issues and events.
They have done all of this by donating their time, staff and funding the web site from top to bottom with their own money.
“Ray and I both chose to have families and our business in Tyrone,” said Gority. “But I think ideally when we first started tyronepa.com, it was never intended to be a ‘for profit’ entity.”
Over time the costs of running the site didn’t necessarily hinder the two production directors, but they saw there was going to be an ongoing cost. The question became, how would ODV offset hosting fees and labor costs for maintaining the site?
Back in October of 2007, ODV began allowing advertising on tyronepa.com, both local banner ads and google ads, but preferable it was seeking local ads from the local community.
“As we started to notice the funds coming in from advertising on the web site, Ray and I had a heart to heart about whether this was something we wanted to do for profit, or was this a site we wanted to do for the community?” questioned Gority.
“The latter of the two was what we were aiming for and at that point, we had a vision of how we could use those funds coming in over the next couple months or couple of years,” added Gority.
That vision has now become a reality. ODV’s ultimate goal was giving the ad funds generated back to the community. Gority and Liddick decided to host a scholarship contest for local senior students at Tyrone and Bellwood-Antis high schools.
ODV wasn’t absolutely sure how much money would be coming in from advertising, since the site just recently started placing ads. Gority estimated that $1,000 would be sufficient for the first year of the scholarship. He projects ODV will be able to continue this scholarship annually in the years to come.
“We own and run tyronepa.com with the help of the Herald, so that’s our baby,” said Gority. “I think we’ve given a lot to the community just by having a place to discuss issues or read news articles, so why not make it something more tangible where we can start helping some kids go to college.”
That’s exactly what the scholarship contest offers; a chance to help local students in the community earn some extra funding for college. There is a total of $1,000 to three contestants. Each contestant has a chance to win a minimum of $250, and one winner will win $500 to use towards a two or four year accredited degree related to their submission category.
The contest has three categories because ODV has three main competencies of its business that describes what ODV is: print media, web media and multi-media (video and audio). Instead of giving $1,000 to one student, the money will be divided up to three students for the three categories, then declaring one winner out of the three to gain an additional $250.
The projects the students are asked to complete for the scholarships defines what tyronepa.com is all about – the local community.
“We wanted to have students create a project oriented around their community,” said Gority. “Having students focus on something in their community, whether it be a local store, local event, a non-profit group or doing a piece on the mountains – whatever they love, that’s what they’re going to work in.”
Each candidate is permitted to submit only one project, so a student can’t have one in all three categories. One category must be chosen.
For example, a student can submit in print media and do a brochure on local tourism; a student can submit in web media and design a web site around something; and for multi-media (video and audio), a student could make a video dealing with a local football game or something along those lines.
What the students make become their submissions. ODV isn’t looking for words, the competition is aimed towards showing what kind of skills the students have in those fields. And once the submissions come in, ODV will take them and convert them for online display.
Again, ODV’s main goal with the contest is the community. Part of that goal involves the community assisting in the voting of the scholarship winners. Technically there is a total of 100 points given to the students participating for the scholarship, and half of those points will be determined by online voting.
“We didn’t want to sit back as Open Door Visions and be the only people to decide who gets the money,” said Gority. “We wanted the public to have the decision, because we already know the community will come to the site and discuss things as they do in the forums, so why not turn that around and let them help decide who picks the actual winners of the scholarship.”
All the projects will be on the site for the world to see, and anyone can come in and register at the forum and vote – but a person can only vote once.
The top three winners of each of the three categories will become the nine finalists. Each of those places warrant a different allotment of points – 50, 40 and 30 points; the other 50 points will be judged by ODV.
ODV will award its 50 points based on three other criterion: creativity, technical and originality. Those points will be allotted out to each of the nine finalists, deciding the three definitive winners for the three categories. Each of those winners automatically wins $250 towards school.
The community becomes involved again for one last final round where the top three winners of each category will have their projects placed back online, and the public will vote as to which of the three projects is more prominent. That winner will receive an additional $250 to garner a total of $500.
The qualifications for the scholarship contest includes: a student must be a senior at Tyrone Area or Bellwood-Antis High School; a student must graduate in the Spring of 2008 with a Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher; employees and family members of employees of ODV are not permitted to participate as a contestant; and at the time of check disbursement, the student must present proof of enrollment in the academic track of his or her choice.
Students and the community can visit tyronepa.com to learn more about the scholarship contest, such as submission guidelines and how to submit, along with examples of the competition categories and more general information about the contest.
“I want students to be able to focus on the community and take it with them that this is the kind of community, these are the kinds of things available even in a small community, that helps get you where you want to go,” said Gority.
He added, “This site is something that could be still standing 10 to 15 years from now and I don’t know if I’ll be the guy at the helm anymore, but it’ll be something that’s still out there.”
“We want to try and take something from this experience and make sure that we set up something that can continually give back to the community. Scholarships made the most sense to us. Financially, everyone could use a little help one way or another.”
ODV hopes to promote more local advertising on tyronepa.com, because those funds would then lead to larger scholarships in the future.