An Established Tradition of Community Giving
The Chehalis Foundation is the Trustee for the West and Coffman scholarship funds. In 2018 a loyal Bearcat from the class of ‘67 wanted to give back to support and help grow the generosity begun by the West and Coffman families. The Foundation used this initial donation to start the Chehalis Foundation West/Coffman Scholarship Fund. Donations to this fund are used to grow the number of West/Coffman scholarship recipients. The earnings from this endowment are directed by the West Coffman scholarship committee. The Chehalis Foundation West Coffman Scholarship Fund is the vehicle for any Bearcat, former student, parent or grandparent whose family has benefitted from receiving a West or Coffman scholarship in the past to pay it forward to help more young Bearcats receive these scholarships in the future.
Scholarship Funds Managed by Chehalis Foundation
The W. F. West and Coffman Scholarships were established as family trusts to support graduates from this community in college and career endeavors. Both families believed strongly in the benefit of education and a college degree. They believed that students from Chehalis who worked hard could succeed in college. They chose to use their estates to give a helping hand to these students. Their legacy has benefitted generations of families and students in this community.
Since 1968 more than 2,500 graduates of W. F. West High School have received West or Coffman scholarships, and the majority of those for multiple years. These scholarship recipients have gone on to be leaders in business, government, education, healthcare and the sciences.
The West and Coffman Scholarships laid the foundation for giving that is exceptional in a small community.
These permanent trusts, worth more than $2.2 million have provided scholarships to W. F. West graduates of “superior ability” and in need of financial assistance to attend college.
We are grateful to the West and Coffman families for establishing this community tradition of giving.
As a result of their “giving back leadership” which began so many generations ago, we now also benefit from the generous gifts of other individuals, families, businesses, foundations and family trusts who support our Bearcat graduates in career and college pursuits.
West Scholarship Fund
William F. West was a longtime civic leader and business owner in Chehalis. In 1947, he and his wife Blanche E. West gave 18 acres on 16th St. for the location of what is now W.F. West High School. In 1956, the Wests revised their estate plan so that upon their passing it would be used to provide scholarships to Bearcats needing help in paying for post-secondary education. They created a 2.2 million dollar Trust. The first West Scholarships were awarded in 1968 and have been given every year since. Thousands of graduates have benefited from the West Scholarships.
William and Blanche hoped that not a single graduate who was capable of being successful in college would be denied the opportunity of higher education because of finances. They also were hopeful, as a result of higher education, the young people who succeeded in their careers would also one day “give back” and grow the funds providing even more opportunities for W.F. West graduates in perpetuity.
Coffman Scholarship Fund
John B. Coffman was a local business owner. In 1972 Coffman and his wife Zylpha Coffman had their wills re-written to create the John Freeman Coffman Scholarship, named for their son John who died in an auto accident shortly after graduating W.F. West High School. The Coffman Fund states, “Often for lack of funds boys and girls of superior ability upon graduation from high school are unable to proceed further with their education.”
Leonard Scholarship Fund
In 2020 the Chehalis Foundation created the Leonard Trust after receiving $979,200 from the Leonard Estate. John Leonard died in 2003 and his wife, Lois, passed away in 2018.
The Leonard Scholarship Fund aligns with the Chehalis School District’s Student Achievement Initiative goals, especially those of career and college readiness. The fund was specifically set aside in support of scholarships to trade schools for vocational training.
While John served our country, Lois graduated from Illinois State University with a teaching certificate. She taught local children for several years before moving to Washington state with her husband in 1951. They were actively involved in their community and their church, Lois serving as Sunday School Superintendent for 15 years. The Leonard’s did not have children of their own, however, they realized the importance of having outstanding vocational programs within the school district.