In 1955 the Bellaire Chamber of Commerce (later the Greater Southwest Houston Chamber, now the Houston Metropolitan Chamber) began a scholarship program.
Helen and Clyde Willbern began participating in the 1980s and spurred the program to become a separate foundation interlocked with the Chamber. In 2013, the Willbern Heritage Scholarship Foundation, Inc., was created independent of the Chamber and doing business as The Helen and Clyde Willbern Scholarship Foundation.
The Mission of the foundation is to provide scholarships for higher education to students in a Career Technology Education Work Program and graduating from public schools in the Southwest part of Houston. Applicants are currently being accepted from Bellaire, Lamar, Westbury, Sharpstown, and Lee High Schools.
Clyde Willbern, a former Chairman of the Board of the Chamber, gave a very generous matching donation to the foundation in 1993. Shortly after, he gave another donation which ensured that two scholarships would be given in the names of Clyde and his wife Helen in perpetuity.
Each year the Foundation awards these two scholarships plus additional scholarships funded by individuals and businesses. In addition to annual fund raising for new scholarships, the Board of Directors is actively soliciting larger contributions to build the fund to sustain more annual scholarships.
Only students who are in Career and Technology Education programs are eligible for the scholarships. These students attend school part of the day and work at paid jobs and internships the rest of the day. They earn academic credit and paychecks at the same time. We choose to support them because they are already actively pursuing career goals and demonstrating that they are an active and contributing part of the community and workforce.