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New Scholarship Program Aims to Curb Student Loan Debt, Increase Degree Completion
America is in the midst of a higher education crisis. By 2018, 60 percent of American jobs will require postsecondary credentials, and in those few short years, the nation
is on pace to fall short of filling that workforce by around 3 million degree-holders. Unfortunately, the barriers to achieving a postsecondary degree or other training continue to grow disproportionately. Tuition is increasing, access to federal grants is decreasing and student loan defaults are on the rise. In addition, not enough students who start college actually complete their degrees. (Statistics are taken from the Georgetown Center for Education and the Workforce, “Help Wanted: Projections of Jobs and Education Requirements
Through 2018,” June 2010.)
To address falling rates of completion, Scholarship America has developed the Dream Award, a multi-year performance-based scholarship fund targeted toward completion. Students will be invited to apply beginning October 15, with winners announced this spring and invited to attend the annual Scholarship America Awards Gala in New York City.
Scholarship America’s Dream Award will be given to students across the country who are entering their second year of education beyond high school. The scholarships will be renewable, and will grow in amount each year, providing students greater incentive to complete their education.
“We need to make sure our scholarships see students through to graduation, instead of just supporting them their first year,” says Scholarship America President & CEO Lauren Segal. “It is a real tragedy for students, parents, donors and institutions when students drop out before they can complete their degree.”
About Scholarship America’s Dream Award
- Scholarship awards are between $5,000 and $15,000 each year, beginning in the second year and growing by up to $1,000 each year until graduation (up to a 5-year degree program).
- Both general scholarships and STEM-specific scholarships will be distributed each year. Students may choose either application track. STEM applies to students in a science, technology, engineering or math related major or program.
- Students who are enrolled in their first year of a postsecondary degree or certificate program are eligible to apply. Other eligibility requirements include maintaining a 3.0+ GPA and meeting a certain level of demonstrated financial need. In addition, community leadership and volunteerism, and overcoming barriers to school success will also be considered.
A portion of the dollars raised for this program will be distributed to local Dollars for Scholars affiliates and used as matching money to raise funds for a similar local scholarship program based on the Scholarship America Dream Award model. Currently, most affiliate awards are smaller, one-time scholarships that support college access, but do not continue beyond a student’s first year of school.
How You Can Help
Fundraising to support Scholarship America’s Dream Award is underway, spurred by an initial donation of $350,000 from Katie Couric. To donate, call 952.830.7300 or visit our online donation form.
Phil Webster and his older twin brothers, David and Peter, have always taken a lot of pride in the classic education they received from the Palmyra-Macedon School District in upstate New York. The spent their K-12 years heavily involved in school activities, and all three believe that the education they received at Pal-Mac prepared them well for college, which they credit for helping them build successful careers. The brothers also believe in giving back, and have done so in part through their work for students and for Scholarship America. David served as chairman of the former New England Dollars for Scholars board, as well as on Scholarship America’s Council of Regions; Peter has been active in mentoring students in the Rochester, New York school system; and Phil has been a Scholarship America volunteer since 1964, serving on the Advisory Board and Board of Trustees before rising to the role as Chairman of the Honor Roll Trustees.
Phil is also a member of Scholarship America’s Jefferson Society, a distinguished group of donors who contribute generously each year at a leadership level of $1,000 or more for individuals and $15,000 or more for corporations and foundations.
So when Scholarship America President and CEO, Lauren Segal, mentioned to Phil that she would be speaking at the upcoming Palmyra-Macedon Dollars for Scholars 25th Anniversary celebration, Phil jumped on the opportunity to make a significant contribution. He’d been thinking of making a gift, he told Lauren, and asked her if she would announce it during her speech at the ceremony. “Maybe I’ll tell my brothers what’s happening, because they’ll be interested, too,” he added.
The twins were interested, and the three brothers decided to pool their gifts to establish a generous fund with Scholarship America that would benefit the local students in perpetuity.
“We envisioned a scholarship fund that would grow and prosper, with Scholarship America’s wise investing, because we have seen this happen. If a scholarship fund is invested wisely, it will grow very nicely,” said Phil.
In keeping with Scholarship America’s mission to help students get through college successfully, the scholarship will be at least $1,000 and also renewable – available to the scholarship recipient for all four years of college, as long the requirements established by the fund are met.
Phil explained that they were committed to establishing a renewable grant for their hometown. “We know that many of the scholarships given are only for one year, and then the student is suddenly left without money for their remaining years,” he said.
“’Giving back’ often seems so trite as a reason when supporting the schools and colleges that educated oneself,” said David Webster, who joined his brothers at the ceremony last spring. “But it’s so true. Many of one’s enduring values were nurtured in those most formative years of primary and secondary schooling, as well as in the all-important home, where it all starts. So it’s right that we should support Pal-Mac students and give them the same opportunities we had 50-plus years ago by endowing, in perpetuity, a fund for merit scholarship awards.”
For more than 50 years, Scholarship America has played a critical role in helping students achieve the dream of higher education, establishing a strong foundation through our scholarship programs and our partnerships with corporations and communities. As a
result, we hold a vast amount of knowledge and expertise in the field of higher education and scholarships—information that deserves to be shared in order to maximize
our impact on students and on the country.
America is slowly recovering from an economic recession, while college tuition and the corresponding student debt continue to skyrocket. This is an especially critical time for us to step out at a national level to weigh in on important conversations about the future of financing a college education by sharing our expertise. This is critical to the achievement of our strategic vision: to be the nationally recognized leader in providing private scholarships and other financial support and to make completing education beyond high school a reality for all.
Scholarship America’s new Senior Vice President of Education Programs and Policy, Max Espinoza, will play a key role in advancing this vision. After spending six months at our headquarters in Minneapolis, Max will relocate to Washington, D.C. and work to expand the organization’s voice in the national dialogue concerning postsecondary educational access and success.
Recently, Max was invited to attend President Obama’s unveiling of a set of proposals designed to improve the ways that colleges operate, and make college education more affordable for families and the process easier to understand. His attendance at this important event will likely be the first of many opportunities to share Scholarship America’s expertise with leaders on a national level.
Scholarship America’s mission is to mobilize America, through scholarships and educational support, to make postsecondary success possible for all students. And we couldn’t do this without the support of our generous donors.There are a number of ways you can assist deserving students, including through planned gifts – making a bequest, donating excess retirement funds, establishing a charitable trust, or establishing a gift endowment – or by donating gifts of cash; appreciated securities; and other assets, such as stock, life insurance, retirement assets, and real estate.
If you prefer to help students in a more hands-on way, you may also consider forming a Dollars for Scholars affiliate in your community. Scholarship America’s Dollars for Scholars program is made up of a network of locally-based scholarship providers that help hometown students access and complete their education beyond high school.
There are three different types of Dollars for Scholars affiliates:
- Community-based chapters, locally-operated organizations led by volunteers
- Corporate chapters, operated or sponsored by a private company and led by employee volunteers
- Affiliate providers, existing non-profit organizations that are 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 in and for the community and students it serves, but all are alike in their commitment to helping students succeed. By distributing private scholarships to students in your community, your Dollars for Scholars affiliate can help 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, and providing the incentive and encouragement to achieve their academic goals.
And you won’t have to go through this process alone. 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.
You can play an important role in helping students in your community achieve their dreams. Find or start an affiliate in your community at this link!
Taking to Twitter
Earlier this summer, Scholarship America was invited to appear as the expert guest on the weekly #HowDoUGive Twitter chat, hosted by UGive.org. UGive, a Cincinnati-based organization, works to connect student volunteers with causes around the country. As part of their mission, UGive conducts this weekly chat, inviting students to ask their guests questions using the #HowDoUGive hashtag.
The chat was largely focused on the ways volunteering could help students in their search for scholarship dollars. We also answered general scholarship questions and introduced our mission to a large new audience.
Twitter is an increasingly important tool for nonprofits, and we believe this partnership will be the first of many opportunities we have to engage directly with students to help them succeed in their education beyond high school. You can follow us on Twitter at @scholamerica!
Scholarship America Gets
Pro-Bono PSA at Indy 500
This past spring, Scholarship America graciously accepted an invitation to air a public service announcement (PSA) at no cost to the organization, in order to raise awareness of the great work that Scholarship America is doing for students across the country.
The 15-second spot was shown on the Indy JumboTron four times an hour, 12 hours a day over the course of the race (May 24-26) – for a grand total of 144 times. The Indy 500 is the highest attended sporting event in the world, with more than 1.3 million viewers. Many Indy fans are also students and parents, as well as potential donors, corporate clients and sponsors. Plus, more than half of all Indy 500 fans consciously choose a sponsor’s brand because of its association with the Indy Racing League.
To view our PSA, check out Scholarship America’s YouTube channel.
KEEP CONNECTED WITH SCHOLARSHIP AMERICA
Like us, follow
us, and spread the word!
Show your support by liking and following our Facebook and Twitter pages, then tell others to do the same. And by sharing our posts, you’ll be giving valuable scholarship advice to the students in your life.
We also invite you to volunteer at the local or national level. Contact the national office (800-279-2083) or find your local Dollars for Scholars chapter here. Our volunteers come together in communities across America to work on behalf of local students – and they’re always looking for more help!
Finally, your monetary gift makes a huge
difference in the lives of
students. A gift of just $1 a
day – for a week, for a month,
or for a year – can help
ensure that students are able
to achieve their goals. To give,
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