PITTSBURG — A $500,000 gift to the Pittsburg State University Foundation will help students — who may not have otherwise had the option — attend college.

The gift was presented to PSU at a ceremony Thursday, and could help as many as 25 students attend PSU. The gift was awarded to PSU by the Kansas arm of the Give Something Back foundation, and was the first such gift to be given in Kansas. Give Something Back also gave gifts to Wichita State University, Baker University and Kansas State University.

"The values of this organization really align with us — meeting needs of students who are deserving and who in many cases are first generation, who maybe don’t have the resources to come," PSU President Dr. Steve Scott said.

Bob Carr founded Give Something Back in 2003. He is now a successful entrepreneur and author, but would not have made it without receiving a $250 scholarship to attend college.

Give Something Back provides mentors and scholarships to give Pell Grant eligible students the opportunity to go to college and graduate in four years free of debt.

The organization has prepaid more than $35 million in scholarships to help more than 1,500 students go to college in six states.

Carr said these students might have been in the foster system, be the children of incarcerated parents, or have lost a parent to death. He said these students may not have had the support of other students had in preparing for college.

Students who benefit from his organization are identified in their ninth-grade year in order to prepare them for college, and are provided mentors and the tools to succeed. They are required to have a minimum 3.0 grade point average in high school, take a college preparatory course load and demonstrate strong character throughout the program.

At least 90 percent of students aided by Give Something Back have graduated from a four-year college; All those who graduated are employed, and more than half have gone on to become mentors themselves.

To bring the program to Kansas, Carr worked with Kansas native Peter Mallouk, whose wife, Veronica Yaghmour Mallouk, grew up in Pittsburg. Peter Mallouk is president and chief investment officer of Creative Planning, Inc., one of the largest independent wealth management firms in the country.

The ninth graders chosen for the PSU scholarships will be selected this fall and next spring, kicking off an eight-year relationship between them, Give Something Back and PSU.