For Rebecca Slomski, it began as a way to make some money during the summer. “I started caddying the summer after eighth grade. I remember hearing an announcement that a local country club was looking for caddies,” she says.

From there, Slomski heard about the Evans Scholars Foundation; a charitable trust that provides full college tuition and housing scholarship for students who caddie. The scholarships can be used for up to four years. Slomski currently serves as the President of the Washington, D.C. alumni chapter. Graduating from the University of Illinois in 1996, Slomski is just one of more than 10,000 students to have benefited from the program since its inception.

The Evans Scholarship Foundation, which began in 1930 with an endowment from Charles “Chick” Evans, Jr., aims to award the financial backing to help students of more modest means to attend college. “The Evans Scholarship is based, in large part, on financial need and academic performance,” says Brian Shell, Director of Education of the Evans Scholarship Foundation. “Evans Scholars live together in scholarship houses, which are owned by the Foundation and run by the students,” Shell says. “The Scholars are self-governed and manage their day-to-day affairs such as finances, house maintenance and organizing philanthropic events.”

To qualify for the program, students must meet several rigorous standards, including at least two years of outstanding caddying experience, a strong academic record, a demonstration of financial need and letters of recommendation from golf club and high school officials. For the 2016-2017 school year, there are a record 935 Evans Scholars around the country. “Our goal is to have more than 1,000 scholars in school by 2020,” Slomski says.

Of the 20 schools where Evans Scholars currently study, 15 of them operate Scholarship Houses, where the students live and study. The University of Illinois currently has 125 students living in a scholarship house. “One of the primary benefits of the scholarship is these houses are by and large run by the students,” Shell says. “They are managing the day-to-day affairs and the finances, philanthropic events and foundations.”

Additionally, each Evans scholar has a responsibility to keep the house clean, including common areas and their own rooms. “The Scholars take pride in their houses and in their involvement in campus activities,” says Shell.

The Evans Scholarship Foundation boasts a 95 percent graduation rate with a median 3.2 grade point average. Currently about one quarter of the scholarship recipients are women and the Caddie Academy, a summer caddying program for girls in high school, is designed to bring that number up. The Western Golf Association's Caddie Academy, which had its fifth summer in 2016, provides girls, who might not have access to caddying in their hometowns, an opportunity to live in the Northwestern Evans Scholarship House for seven weeks and work at country clubs along Chicago's North Shore.

“We are looking in particular for young women who don't live near a golf course,” says Slomski. “We are growing a pipeline of scholars and we are working our connections so we can find these capable girls who are willing to make a three-summer commitment to our program.”

Receiving the scholarship does take several years of work. “Getting enough caddying takes advance planning. You can't just start the summer before your senior year in high school,” Slomski says. “For parents of 11- or 12-year-olds, this is a good time to think about having your child start some caddying within a couple of years.”

“Operating costs for the Evans Scholarship Program exceed $17 million annually. Funding is provided primarily by individual donations and proceeds from the annual BMW Championship, conducted by the Western Golf Association,” Shell says. “Evans Scholars Alumni provide major support for the program that funded their own college educations. In 2015, Alumni contributed $11 million to the program. Our Alums are extremely generous,” Shell says.

The additional money needed is raised through golfing tournaments and private donations.

“Caddying is a wonderful job for young men and women in high school,” Shell says. “Summer jobs are more and more difficult to find at that age, and it’s a great way to make money and learn a true work ethic at a young age. You learn money management, you learn responsibility and you are surrounded by some great mentors who really want to help these kids.”

For more information about the scholarship program, visit their website at wgaesf.org.