Carson City developer Garth Richards is putting together a plan to generate money for the Kenny C. Guinn memorial Millennium Scholarship Fund.
In a nutshell, he had a Dayton company turn the bronze coin bearing Guinn's image into a money clip that he wants to sell, with all proceeds going to the state scholarship fund named for the former governor.
"I think it's a great idea," said state Treasurer Kate Marshall, whose office manages the scholarship program. "It will make money for that fund so more kids get the scholarship."
She and Richards say there's just one problem: how to do it.
"I'm open to any ideas," said Richards, a close friend of the late governor and his wife, Dema Guinn. "I have to find some nonprofit to sell them. I had marketing experts tell me the kids won't buy them but the parents will."
He paid for the first 1,000 clips himself at about $5 apiece. He's selling them for a minimum of $20.
Guinn created the Millennium Scholarship program to help all Nevada high school graduates go to college. It was created in 2000 with tobacco settlement money supplemented by state funding - primarily a $7.6 million annual appropriation from the unclaimed-property account. It originally provided up to $10,000 for every Nevada high school graduate with a 3.0 grade average or higher.
It still provides up to $10,000 over six years from graduation, but the GPA minimum is now 3.25.
Since the start of the program, 71,318 students have used the program to attend one of Nevada's college campuses. Some 21,000 are currently receiving the scholarship, and some 24,000 have received degrees using the funds.
But that funding source has been poached repeatedly by the Legislature to cover state funding shortages. Lawmakers have taken the $7.6 million in unclaimed-property funding for the past three years. They also took back $10 million in General Fund money that they had put in.
In addition, the settlement money itself has been coming in lower than originally predicted, as efforts to reduce the number of smokers reduces the amount available from tobacco companies under the settlement.
Nonetheless, a total amount distributed to students during the past decade is now more than $271.4 million.