Silvernail Scholars program to foster leadership skills, prepare students for post-secondary education

BLUE HILL — Bucksport High School graduates Shelby and Andy Silvernail along with their grown children Koster, Spencer, and Alyssa, have established the Silvernail Scholars program with an initial commitment of $2 million from the Silvernail Foundation.

Every year, up to 10 scholars will be selected from Hancock County public high schools. The graduating seniors will each receive up to $15,000 to support their post-secondary education program of study. Each cohort will be invited to an annual summit, focused on values-based leadership and how to build communities of trust, respect, and prosperity.

Removing education barriers for Hancock County students

In 2020, the percentage of students in rural Maine schools who completed federal financial aid forms dropped nearly 20 percent. While organizations like MaineSpark continue to do their part to ensure Maine students hold post-secondary credentials, there is still work to be done.

“Education changes lives,” said Shelby Silvernail, BHS class of ’91. “Our goal is to provide access to education for students from all backgrounds.”

Paying it forward

In addition to the Silvernail Scholars program, Shelby and Andy have established scholarships at BHS, the Silvernail Award for academic and athletic excellence for the Little Ten football conference, and continue to invest in the arts, athletics, STEM, and robotics in the RSU 25 school system.

Andy Silvernail, BHS class of ‘89, shared how fortunate he was to find mentors in teachers, coaches, and friends’ parents while growing up in Bucksport.

“As a kid and teenager, I had very little direction,” said Andy. “My mentors didn’t hold my background or socioeconomic status against me. They saw potential, invested in me, and I am forever grateful.”

Both Shelby and Andy shared their excitement to invest in Maine’s youth, help them achieve their dreams, and continue to the pattern of mentorship.

Application materials and information on how to apply will be available in early 2023.  

People. Passion. Perseverance. The Silvernail Foundation believes in helping young people achieve their dreams through equitable access to education and health.

Andy Silvernail is the founder, chair, and CEO of 5 Nails, LLC and the former CEO and Chair of IDEX Corporation and Madison Industries. He is a director for Stryker Corporation and an Aspen Institute Henry Crow Fellow. Shelby serves on the Board of Paws for Patrick, a non-profit organization dedicated to connecting young people struggling with mental illness with emotional support animals and therapy dogs. They reside in Lake Forest, Illinois and live seasonally in Blue Hill.