Reporter: Ellie Mahan
January 12, 2022
Two former Abbott students have partnered to create a nonprofit called The K | K Enrichment Foundation, which will begin its efforts by providing six $1,000 scholarships to Hill County seniors.
Jace Kolar, Corporate Sales Development Representative at Workday, and Zachary Kallus, Management Trainee at Hajoca Corporation, both began attending Abbott ISD in kindergarten and later graduated from Abbott High School in 2017. They went on to graduate from Texas A&M University in 2021, and now they work for two of the largest companies in their respective industries. Although Kolar now lives in Atlanta and Kallus lives in Austin, they want to give back to Hill County students because they appreciate the impact that their hometown has had on them.
Kolar and Kallus have always thought about going into business together, and since they are both happy with their professional positions, they decided to help students in their journey to becoming assets in the workforce. They realize that their success wouldn’t have been possible without the people who influenced them growing up, from their kindergarten teachers to their high school coaches.
Kolar said, “Coming from Abbott we had a lot of really good role models, our coaches, our educators, just people in the community who showed us how important it was to give back. We agreed that coming out of that and going to Texas A&M together and having the opportunities that we did, that we wanted to be able to give that back to students.”
The K | K Enrichment Foundation Scholarships will be available to seniors graduating from a high school in Hill County in 2022.
Kallus said, “I’ve always seen the value in growing up in Hill County. Growing up in Abbott, interacting with kids across the county, across the whole area, shaped me into the person I am today, so I think our main motivation for giving back to this area specifically is for that very reason. We just want to get back to our roots, and at the end of the day, we just recognize how important everyone back home is in our lives.”
The six $1,000 scholarships will target areas that Kolar and Kallus are passionate about. Some of the scholarships they plan to issue include: The Texas A&M Legacy Scholarship, which will be for an incoming Texas A&M freshman who has family members who graduated from Texas A&M; The Texas A&M First-Generation Scholarship, which will be for an incoming Texas A&M freshman who has no family members who have graduated from Texas A&M; The Roots Leadership in Agriculture Scholarship, which will be for a senior who is heavily involved in FFA or 4H; and The Donna French Women in Industry Scholarship, which will be for a female who wants to make a difference in the workforce.
Another critical element of The K | K Enrichment Foundation will be mentorship. The founders want students to have a place they can go to if they need tips on how to balance their schedule, how to manage getting involved with organizations while also excelling in the classroom, and how to make time for friendships and relationships when in college.
Kolar and Kallus have discussed hosting semi-annual luncheons or meetings so that their scholarship recipients can interact with people who are a part of their networks. Between the two of them, they are connected with people in a variety of industries, and they would enjoy helping students find a mentor who is successful in the industry they are considering going into.
“Me and Zach have had a lot of really great mentors. As students go through college, we understand that there is a financial burden, but it’s also hard just to be a young adult going through college. We want to be there as a source of wisdom and a source of experience, to make sure that students have someone they can go to for advice,” Kolar said. “You have to have a source of mentorship, so they don’t ever get to college and feel like they’re alone in that fight.”
In the future, there will be opportunities for local businesses to partner with and sponsor The K | K Enrichment Foundation, which will allow the organization to distribute more scholarships and opportunities. For the initial round of scholarship funding and as they finalize the necessary legalities of becoming a fully-functioning 501(c)(3) foundation, Kallus and Kolar will provide $3,000 each, out of their own pockets. Kolar said they are proud to supply the funds for the scholarships; even when The K | K Enrichment Foundation is receiving assistance from community members, the two plan to contribute their own money because they want to invest in students who grew up in the same small-town atmosphere they did.
“We wanted it to come from us to show that this is authentic. This isn’t sponsored by anybody yet. This is an effort from two young guys who graduated from a high school in Hill County, not all that long ago, and we personally believe in the students that are still there, the youth, the talent and the treasures that come out of Hill County,” Kolar said.
Both founders see growth for The K | K Enrichment Foundation in the future. Kallus said that although the organization is starting exclusively in Hill County, it could end up expanding its reach for scholarships and potentially branch out to get involved in other avenues beyond scholarships and mentorships.
“Our main goal is to give back at first to the youth, and we will continually do that, but say we want to dive into other realms, whether it’s helping local food banks around Christmas time, helping the homeless population. There are so many ways we can grow. That is the end goal, just having multiple segments, multiple ways of giving back,” Kallus said.
Kolar and Kallus hope to build a strong foundation for the organization so that the scholarships will continue to benefit local students for generations to come.
“We want to give more to students and other organizations than anybody has ever given so that we can look back and say that we were two kids from Abbott High School who graduated from a class of 19 students, who became the biggest nonprofit organization in or around Hill County. I think that’s the dream for us. It’s hard to quantify how big this could be. I say that because I know how much we both care about it,” Kolar said.
Kallus said if he had to share advice with the graduating class of 2022, he would tell students to never forget the quote “your network is your net worth.” Graduates should always strive to build a network because one phone call from the right person can lead to the opportunity of a lifetime. He spent his last few years in college really getting to know the people around him, and he thinks the time he spent networking got him just as far in his career as the time he spent hitting the books.
“Be open-minded when you go off to school. Experience as much as you can because you never know where you’ll end up. I honestly could never see myself going into the sector or the business area I’m in. Coming out of school, I feel like a completely different person. I changed so much, grew so much over the years, and I think a lot of that came through being open-minded and not being afraid to take chances,” Kallus said.
Kolar’s advice is to seek opportunities to make a difference in people’s lives. He also advised to stay persistent when working hard for something for a long time, even if there are not immediate, observable results. He said, “Just keep doing the right thing over and over and over again. Always do the next right thing, and you’ll find success.”
Kolar continued by stating that what sets Kallus and himself apart from others is their unwavering belief that they have the ability to change the world.
He said, “Me and Zach are still young and naive enough to think that we can have a genuine impact in this world, and I don’t think that we’ll ever stop believing that. At some point it will just have to be true because we’re not going to believe any different.”