By Dani Blackburn
Michael Higgins and his wife, Melinda Branchini, of Forestburg found a way to ingeniously unite their two passions — education and shooting — in a way that gives back to others when they created the Higgins Branchini Shooting Foundation.
The HBSF is a national charitable organization providing funds to collegiate students competing in clay target shooting sports.
“We don’t have any children, and we wanted to give back,” Branchini explained. “I’m interested in academics and my husband is interested in shooting, so we blended the two.”
HBSF is possibly the only organization of its kind giving grants to individual collegiate shooters rather than groups and teams. Since its creation, the organization has given $120,000 to students at 42 different universities in 22 different states from California to Connecticut.
Higgins serves as the board president, while Branchini is the executive director. Other board members include Elizabeth Cook, secretary; Steven Wirth, vice president; Mimi Wilfong, board member and Shea Self, board member.
College students who are members of their college or university shotgun shooting team are automatically eligible for HBSF assistance. Financial assistance in the form of grants, not scholarships, is extended to individuals based on the advisory committee’s recommendations.
Each applicant must provide a business plan detailing how they will use the funds provided.