INDIANAPOLIS — Ben Davis High School alumnus Bill Rogers has made a donation of $200,000 to the Wayne Township Education Foundation, citing a desire to “make a difference” for the school system that helped give him his start in life.
Rogers presented the check to the Education Foundation March 14 at the Seniors’ Choice Banquet, which honors teachers in the Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township voted by high school seniors as having had the greatest influence on their learning.
The donation will fund the Bill Rogers Making a Difference Grant in support of creative teaching and programs that boost academic achievement at Ben Davis High School. In its first year, the grant will fund dual credit opportunities and teacher ideas that improve students’ college readiness.
During the check presentation, Rogers spoke of the influences of his teachers and coaches at Ben Davis during his years at the school in the late 1950s. After graduating in 1960, he became the first in his family to attend college.
While working in the furnace division for General Electric, he took advantage of management training programs and in 1972, left to start his own company. His business grew from installing and servicing industrial heat treating equipment into his present company, Rogers Engineering and Manufacturing, based in Cambridge City.
Today, his 110,000 square foot facility employs more than 80 people. His three children are actively involved in the business.
“We are grateful for Mr. Rogers’ generosity in giving back to the place where he got his start,” Troy Todd, president of the Wayne Township Education Foundation, said in a press release. “This gift is the first of its kind to our foundation.”
MSD of Wayne Township Superintendent Jeff Butts remarked on Rogers’ strong work ethic and the effect it has had.
“He credits his humble beginnings in Wayne Township and several MSD Wayne teachers and coaches who helped him along the way,” Butts said. “He has become very successful and touched many lives through his personal example and generosity.”
Rogers’ business has become internationally successful. If you drive a car or truck made by any of the major automotive makers, the cooling systems in those vehicles were manufactured using equipment built by Rogers Engineering. If you put your hand in your pocket and pull out a state quarter, it was minted using a Rogers Annealing Furnace. The equipment is used not only by the U.S. Mint, but the Royal Mint in the United Kingdom.
The perpetual entrepreneur, Rogers has owned and operated several successful businesses over the years. He has designed and constructed commercial buildings, built and operated hotels and restaurants, and most recently got into agriculture, overseeing several hundred acres of farmland.
The Wayne Township Education Foundation plans to use Rogers’ $200,000 donation for years to come in its efforts to create improved learning opportunities for the district’s students.
For more information about the Wayne Township Education Foundation, visit the website at www.wayne.k12.in.us/wtef or call 988-7966.