1. Welcome to Dollars for Scholars


Scholarship America’s Dollars for Scholars program is made up of a network of locally based scholarship providers -- Dollars for Scholars affiliates -- that help hometown students access and complete their education beyond high school. For more than 50 years, Scholarship America, the nation’s largest provider of private scholarships, has helped community groups and organizations nationwide establish and operate Dollars for Scholars scholarship programs.


Since Dr. Irving Fradkin raised the first dollar for student scholarships in Fall River, Massachusetts in 1958, and coined his effort “Dollars for Scholars," this unique grassroots program has provided more than $564 million to 713,000 students across the country. More than just the impact of financial aid, Dollars for Scholars has united communities in a common effort, mobilized citizens to support higher education and provided inspiration and encouragement to students from all walks of life. You can check out our Chapter Search to see where our current affiliates are located across the nation.


Scholarship America provides a ready-made model for your community or organization to join this nationally-recognized movement and make a lasting impact on students in your area. Are you ready to join the movement? Click on "Overview" above to learn more.


Cynthia Neary, 1972 Scholarship Recipient and current Chapter President



2. An Overview of the Program


For the first time in decades, American students are achieving college degrees at lower rates than other industrialized countries. Currently, only about half of students who start a postsecondary degree program complete their education. With tuition and fees rising at rates well above the rate of inflation, students are also saddled with increasing amounts of student loan debt. The average student loan debt is more than $26,000 and the rate of defaulting on those loans is going up.


Scholarship America Dollars for Scholars, the largest, grassroots national scholarship program, can change these statistics by harnessing the power of its community -- hundreds of local organizations, and thousands of volunteers and donors supporting local students with financial aid and other supports.


Private scholarships from Dollars for Scholars affiliates can help promising students with financial need complete their education by filling the gaps in funding from other sources, reducing the level of debt and hours needed to work while attending school, allowing students to attend the post-secondary institution of their choice, and providing the incentive and encouragement to achieve their academic goals.


The Role of Scholarship America
Scholarship America is committed to supporting the development and sustainability of its Dollars for Scholars affiliates through personalized, expert support; accessible training and resources; web-based program and scholarship management tools; a local and nationally-branded website template and hosting; networking opportunities; funding opportunities; and visibility and public awareness through a respected national brand identity. Dollars for Scholars affiliates are supported through a wide array of specific affiliation benefits, which continues to grow based on the needs of students and our affiliates.


Click "More Details" below to learn specifics about what Scholarship America provides. Click "Impact" above to continue reading.

More Details

Here's what you can expect from Scholarship America. We will:


  • Be responsive and relationship-driven
  • Maintain clear and consistent expectations
  • Maintain clear and consistent communications
  • Provide usable tools including concrete examples and resources with how-to guides and templates
  • Provide accessible, relevant and timely training/expertise on a wide range of topics
  • Broker resources for Dollars for Scholars affiliates:
    • National, area and/or local partners
    • National, area and/or local sponsors
    • "Evangelizers" and advocates
    • Matching grants or other funding opportunities
  • Develop and maintain a strong, visible, national brand and organizational awareness
  • Develop and maintain credible and useful national spokespeople
  • Expand the Collegiate Partners program and increase the value of the program for programs, students and colleges/universities
  • Develop and maintain a strong national community or movement of Dollars for Scholars affiliates
  • Develop and maintain opportunities for chapters to participate in and support the Dollars for Scholars program at all levels (local, area and national)
  • Be passionate and united about the mission and cause
  • Value and support volunteers, and the services and benefits they provide
  • Be accountable, service-oriented and act with integrity


Click here for a PDF of this information that you can download, print and share.


3. The Impact of Dollars for Scholars


Dollars for Scholars has provided more than $500 million in scholarships since 1958.


Successful Dollars for Scholars affiliates have two essential things in common:


1. They raise money annually to award impactful, performance-based renewable scholarships to students with financial need who have also demonstrated motivation and perseverance. Research shows that performance-based, renewable scholarships (i.e., awards given to students each year of their education, as long as they fulfill requirements) can boost graduation rates by 5 to 10 percent.

2. They maintain an ongoing connection with scholarship recipients and track student outcomes. Scholarships are most effective at increasing college completion rates when combined with some type of social engagement -- adult or peer mentoring, clubs/activities, summer internships and online discussion or social networking programs. Whatever engagement activity a program chooses, the purpose should be to provide personal and/or professional support for scholarship recipients in order to help them succeed in college and in life.


Click "More Details" below for requirements and expectations of all chapters. Click "Models" above to continue reading.

More Details

What's Expected From All New Dollars for Scholars Affiliates

Click here for a PDF of this information that you can download, print and share.


As you organize, you'll need to:

  • Successfully complete all steps to affiliation
  • Think, plan and act for long-term sustainability
  • Think, plan and act for greatest student impact and be results-driven
  • Use a business model to guide planning/operations (start with a three year business plan/budget)
  • Understand that the program is a licensed affiliate of Scholarship America
  • Develop and maintain active, annual plans for fundraising and marketing
  • Follow governance best practices


Your scholarship program needs to:

  • Serve a community of students located within a defined geographic area as specified in the affiliation agreement
  • Serve a community not currently served by another Dollars for Scholars program, unless there is a collaboration agreement with the existing chapter
  • Serve a community that includes low income students, as defined by federal income guidelines

(Continued) Your scholarship program needs to:

  • Provide, impactful performance-based, renewable scholarships to support students with economic need throughout their college career
  • Renewable scholarships should be a minimum, per student scholarship award of $1,000 per year for each year of the academic degree or certificate program, e.g. $1,000 x 2 years for students attending community college.
  • Distribute the first scholarship award within the first two years of affiliation
  • Maintain a relationship with student recipients throughout their college career
  • Track student outcomes
  • Build in opportunities for student involvement in program activities
  • Develop and maintain strong partnerships with K-12 schools, colleges/universities, community groups, business community, etc.
  • Develop and maintain a strong visibility in the community and build a "college culture"

And your program will need to commit to the following best business practices:

  • Complete adoption/full implementation of ChapterNet, our web-based scholarship and chapter management software
  • Full compliance with all brand standards
  • Full compliance with all program policies and requirements
  • Responsive and active communication/engagement with Scholarship America
  • Stay current with Scholarship America communications, resources
  • Attend Dollars for Scholars training on an annual basis
  • Engage with other Dollars for Scholars programs and be an active member of the national community
  • Conduct an annual financial audit or review (as per state requirements)
  • Bonded



4. Three Affiliate Models to Fit Your Community


Dollars for Scholars affiliates govern and manage all aspects of their operations. To maintain their affiliation status with Scholarship America, they also adhere to the parameters and standards set forth in their affiliation agreement. There are three different ways to affiliate; early on in the process, you'll select which of the following fits best with your community:


1. Community Chapter: A locally-operated organization that incorporates and affiliates as a Dollars for Scholars chapter, operating under the umbrella of Scholarship America’s 501(c)(3) charitable, federal tax-exempt status (part of Scholarship America’s group IRS ruling).

2. Corporate Chapter: A locally-operated organization sponsored by a private company or corporation, led by employee volunteers, and operating under the umbrella of Scholarship America’s 501(c)(3) charitable, federal tax-exempt status (part of Scholarship America’s group IRS ruling).

3. Affiliate Provider: An existing non-profit organization incorporated as a 501(c)(3) charitable, federal tax-exempt entity, which is licensed to use the Dollars for Scholars program to provide postsecondary scholarships.

Each type of Dollars for Scholars affiliate is unique in terms of how it operates and the community and students it serves, but all programs are alike in their commitment to helping students access and succeed in their education beyond high school.


Click "More Details" below for specific requirements of each model. Click "Volunteers" above to continue reading.

More Details

Click here for a PDF of this information that you can download, print and share.


Community Chapter Requirements

In addition to the general expectations, you'll need to:

  • Start with and maintain a minimum of 10 Board of Directors to include President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary and committee chairs
  • By the end of the 3rd year of affiliation and beyond, maintain a minimum additional working (non-voting) volunteer base of 15
  • Incorporate as a legal entity in the state where doing business


Affiliate Provider Requirements

In addition to the general expectations, you'll need to:

  • Be an organization with a compatible mission (education-related)
  • Be an organization whose charitable status, financials and reputation in the community are in good standing
  • Maintain a minimum of 10 members on the Dollars for Scholars program committee which should include representatives from the community being served
  • Conduct a minimum of 1 Dollars for Scholars branded, community-based fundraising event per year

Corporate Chapter Requirements

In addition to the general expectations:

  • Employee volunteers will provide the leadership and direction for the chapter, serving on the governing Board of Directors and affiliate committees.
  • Employee volunteer leaders of the chapter should have opportunities to make decisions and determine direction for the affiliate.
    • Corporate ownership/management should not dictate the decisions of the affiliate
    • Employees’ performance or compensation should not be predicated by their engagement as a corporate volunteer for the affiliate.
  • Affiliate leadership and volunteers should also include representatives from the community served (suggested 75/25 split).
  • You'll maintain a minimum of 10 Board of Directors to include President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary and committee chairs
  • You'll maintain a minimum additional working (non-voting) volunteer base of 15
  • Scholarships may not be given to employees or children of employees.
  • Scholarship program serves students in a community (city, neighborhood, school district or individual school) that is located in or near (in the same metropolitan area) the corporate headquarters or branch office.
  • Affiliate can only serve students in one community that is located in or near the same city as the corporate headquarters or branch office. If the corporation wants to serve more than one community (headquarters and a branch office), then more than one chapter has to be developed.
  • The name of the affiliate must include the name of the corporation followed by the name Dollars for Scholars (e.g. Cobalt Mortgage Dollars for Scholars) and Scholarship America brand standards governing corporate chapters must be followed.
  • The corporation provides the initial seed money for the first five years of the affiliate operations.
  • After the first five years in operation, community fundraising (which can include donations solicited from employees, vendors or other individuals engaged in the corporate community), should be the primary vehicle for the affiliate’s revenue.



5. The Role of Dollars for Scholars Volunteers

Autumn K's testimonial about the value of Dollars for Scholars


Volunteers are the backbone of any Dollars for Scholars affiliate. While organizations may have or hire staff, all community and corporate affiliates are governed by a volunteer Board of Directors, and all affiliate providers are led by a volunteer program committee. Volunteers for all types of affiliates are essential to carry out activities and events. A successful Dollars for Scholars affiliate has a robust, committed group of results-driven volunteers who bring diverse talents, resources and perspectives, and who are always recruiting new volunteers and building for the future.


Are you passionate about higher education in your community? Are you a connected, well-respected, recognized leader? Do you have a vision for a more successful community—and the ability to partner with other driven volunteers to make it happen? Then you're the right person to organize a new Dollars for Scholars affiliate.


You'll also need a team of fellow volunteers who share your passion and drive. Like you, they should be willing to commit to your community's educational future; they should also represent a diverse set of skills, backgrounds, opinions and connections.


Click "More Details" below for qualities and characteristics of the ideal chapter leaders and volunteers. Click "Costs" above to continue reading.

More Details

Qualities of a Dollars for Scholars Leader/Organizer

A leader and/or organizer should be:

  • Results-driven
  • Passionate about higher education/scholarships
  • Highly connected and respected in the community
  • Able to influence others
  • A visionary, big thinker able to sell our vision
  • Able to give and/or get significant resources
  • Business-oriented
  • A positive thinker
  • Willing and able to delegate
  • An active and recognized leader in the community
  • Organized, and an organizer
  • Ready to act locally and think globally


Qualities of a Dollars for Scholars Volunteer

A volunteer should be:

  • Personally invested/passionate about mission
  • Willing and able to make meaningful give/get contribution
  • Willing to commit significant time to the organization including attending meetings and participating in events
  • Able to give and/or get resources
  • Able to be an advocate/ambassador
  • Creative
  • Part of a group with diverse skills, ages, occupations, experience and roles
  • A combination of a leader and a doer
  • Willing to learn
  • Ready to act locally and think globally


Click here for a PDF of this information that you can download, print and share.


6. Costs of Affiliation


Start-up Affiliation Fees

Community Chapter = $1,000

Affiliate Provider = $2,000

Corporate Chapter = $3,000


Annual Affiliation Fees

Community Chapter (based on chapter’s total organizational assets):
Less than $50K = $400
$50K - $99K = $700 (fee includes tax preparation and filing)
$100K+ = $800 (fee includes tax preparation and filing)


Affiliate Providers (based on the organization’s annual operating budget):
Less than $500K = $800
$500K - $1.5M = $1,200
$1.5M+ = $1,500


Corporate Chapter (based on the company’s annual revenues):
Less than $500K = $1,500
$500K – $1.5M = $2,000
$1.5M+ = $2,500


Last year Dollars for Scholars helped nearly 40,000 students.


Click "Next Steps" above to find out how you can start the affiliation process!



7. Take The Next Step


Click here to contact your Area Director and start the next steps in the process, including the Community Evaluation Survey and an Affiliate Organizer Profile.


Plan and Prepare, Phase 1
During this step, you will identify and select other organizers/leaders to help plan and lay the foundation for your Dollars for Scholars organization and/or program. You will also assess and select your community, identify the students you want to serve, and complete and return the Community Assessment form and Affiliate Organizer profile. To share all of the information from this overview with potential fellow volunteers, forward this link or download this printable PDF.



After you've sent those forms, your Area Director will schedule a one-on-one consultation where you can learn more about Dollars for Scholars and receive expert advice on developing your organization/program. You'll also receive more in-depth planning tools and information including Part 2 of the Community Assessment, a SWOT Analysis and a Business/Strategic Plan.


Plan and Prepare, Phase 2

During this phase of the process, you will build community interest, assemble a planning team, complete and return the planning tools provided, participate in a second consultation with your Area Director and hold your first official meeting.


Launch Your Program!
At this point, your group is ready to obtain Provisional Affiliation Status by completing and returning the following documentation: organization/program roster; organization by-laws; and the affiliation fee.


Within 90 days of your provisional affiliation, you'll need to finalize your Articles of Incorporation (Community Chapters and Affiliate Providers) and provide copies of bonding, insurance, a bank account signature card with EIN, and your signed affiliation agreement. You'll also go through program orientation training, set up your ChapterNet website, meet with your Area Director and get in touch with a local mentor program. At that point, you'll receive your program affiliation certificate and final affiliation agreement -- welcome aboard!

If you're interested in affiliating with Dollars for Scholars, please read through all of the overview pages at left; you can also visit the Chapter Search page to see if there are Dollars for Scholars affiliates in your area.


After you've read through each section, click below to fill out a quick survey letting us know you're interested.


Start the Affiliation Process


About DFS


Scholarship America


Scholarship America Dollars for Scholars