WACO College Scholarship Program Application—Deadline April 30, 2019

Fri, March 1, 2019

Each year the Woodfield Area Children’s Organization (WACO) awards three college scholarships to high school seniors attending public and private schools in the District 211, District 214 and U-46 service areas. These students demonstrate a commitment to helping those in need, are in good standing at their high school and can establish acceptance at an accredited four-year college or university for the calendar year 2019.

Our scholarships were established in recognition of three community leaders who were instrumental in our founding and, through their continued efforts, furthered our mission enhance the quality of life for children living at and below the poverty level in Chicago’s northwestern and western suburbs.

Click here to apply


The John Bestmann Memorial Scholarship, Michael J. O’Malley Memorial Scholarship, and William A. Kelly, Sr. Memorial Scholarship are awarded to deserving graduating high school seniors who plan to attend an accredited four-year college or university in the Fall of 2019.

John Bestmann Memorial Scholarship

John Bestmann was one of WACO's founding fathers. Back in 1979, John and a few friends became aware of the growing number of underprivileged children in the northwest suburbs. Realizing these children were missing out on several opportunities familiar to most suburban children, such as the joy of opening presents on Christmas morning, John and his friends dug into their own pockets to help out. Soon John was organizing fundraisers and was instrumental in helping WACO incorporate in 1993. He passed away in 1996, but his spirit lives on.

Michael O’Malley Memorial Scholarship

During his 11 years as Hoffman Estates Village President, Michael O'Malley worked tirelessly to help disadvantaged children in the northwest suburbs. WACO partnered with Mike in the, and he was instrumental in getting other suburban leaders on board. Mike was also very involved in establishing the Children's Advocacy Center, which helps victims of child abuse, and one of WACO’s seven partner agencies. Mike led by example and always found the time to help children in need.

Bill Kelly Memorial Scholarship

Bill Kelly’s passion for helping underprivileged children was unmatched. Other than his own beloved family, and perhaps Notre Dame football, there was no topic Bill liked discussing more than WACO. Whenever anyone claimed they were too busy, too tired or too broke to help out – Bill was there to remind them "it's for the kids." Thanks to Bill’s stewardship, our Elk Grove Village shopping tour ran seamlessly. From his hospital bed, Bill continued to make calls to make sure the shopping tour project was flowing smoothly. Bill's passing has left an enormous void. WACO honors him with this scholarship in his name.

Scholarship Awards

Total awards in 2019 is $ 6,000. The application deadline is Tuesday, April 30, 2019. The Scholarship Committee will determine the amount awarded to each recipient. The Scholarship Committee’s decision is final.


  • High school seniors attending public and private schools in the District 211, District 214 and U-46 service areas.
  • Demonstration of community service; participation as a WACO volunteer is helpful, but not required.
  • School activities and honors
  • Scholastic standing
  • Volunteer experience paragraph
  • Personal interview
  • If accepted, please bring a color photo, and a copy of your letter of acceptance from the college/university

Click here to apply

Should you have any questions, please contact us at info@waco4kids.org or call (847) 209-5513.

About the Woodfield Area Children’s Organization

Since 1979, the Woodfield Area Children’s Organization (WACO) has been dedicated to creating positive childhood memories, providing basic needs, along with educational support for children living at or below the poverty level in Chicago's northwest and western suburbs. The Woodfield Area Children’s Organization is an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) nonprofit that supports seven local agencies through fundraising and charity drives to ensure that children have an opportunity to learn, grow and succeed. Visit us at www.waco4kids.org

You Never Stand So Tall, As When You Kneel to Help a Child

Looking to Volunteer?

Volunteers are the lifeblood of WACO. Without your help, we simply cannot do all the things we do each year. At WACO, we are all volunteers. We do not have any paid positions. From the president on down, we all help whenever and wherever we can. Whether it be as a committee member or as a volunteer on the day of an event, we hope you will consider joining us. 

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