Third annual Don Pierson III Memorial Classic builds scholarship fund for budding entrepreneurs

The third annual Don Pierson III Memorial Classic, a golf tournament hosted by the StartupAZ Foundation, on behalf of the Don Pierson Memorial Fund, will take place Monday, Oct. 4. The tournament is designed to raise money to provide scholarships and resources for entrepreneurs across Arizona. 

The fund was set up in honor of Don Pierson III, a serial entrepreneur in Arizona who died in a tragic car accident in November 2016. The effort was led by Pat Stoner, a close personal friend who co-founded a couple companies with Pierson. 

“The fact that we are doing this in Don’s honor means a lot to several of us and others in the entrepreneurial community as well,” Stoner said. 

The Pierson family contacted Stoner soon after Pierson’s death to ask for help setting up a memorial fund specifically for new entrepreneurs. It’s what Don would’ve wanted, they said. 

According to Stoner, everything came together quickly. He connected with Brandon Clarke, co-founder and CEO of StartupAZ, to expedite the process and get a link to the fund in the obituary. Pierson was well-liked and many people contributed donations to the fund in lieu of flowers. 

The memorial fund initially consisted of the generous contributions made on Pierson’s behalf. Eventually, Stoner and Clarke decided to create a golf tournament to continue building the fund. 

At first, the fund was used to provide travel grants anywhere from $500 to $1500 to cover some of the expenses new entrepreneurs incur while traveling to meet investors, for example. 

Don Pierson III and his family

As the fund grew, they decided to use the money to offer scholarships to ASU students in the entrepreneurial school, business school or studying computer science. Pierson was an alumnus of the university. 

So far, the fund has awarded six scholarships. According to Stoner, the scholarships aren’t huge, but they can definitely help. As long as students maintain a minimum GPA, they stay in the program. Each scholarship is $2000 per year and students can receive the money the four years they are in school. 

Four students are currently participating in the scholarship program, but Stoner said the goal is to raise more money to award more scholarships. 

“It’s heartwarming,” said Stoner. “I can honestly say that I didn’t realize how rewarding it would be to offer these scholarships.” 

The tournament will take place on Oct. 4 at Grand Canyon University Golf Course and registration is still open. Visit here for more information.