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For a high school senior, few things are more exciting than receiving a college acceptance letter from your dream school – and there’s good reason to celebrate the hard work that went into earning it! But when the first tuition bill comes in the mail, the grim reality of the high cost of a college degree also sets in: How on earth will I possibly be able to afford this?
It’s a dilemma that thousands of students face year after year, in a world where student loan debt is the largest form of consumer debt outside of mortgages – and a dilemma that Scholarship America is setting out to solve.
For more than 50 years, Scholarship America has been helping students pay for college through our programs – has, in fact, distributed $3.1 billion to 2 million students since 1958. Our flagship program, Dollars for Scholars, helps local volunteers provide local scholarships to hometown students. And our Dreamkeepers program provides thousands of dollars in emergency financial assistance to students at community colleges across the country – because no student should have to choose between paying an electric bill and paying for tuition.
Through the years, we’ve helped these local affiliates with a range of services and support, including providing training opportunities, materials, and expert advice. For the bulk of our history, affiliates were autonomous and independent – and while we value flexibility and diversity, it became increasingly clear that a more clearly coordinated effort, tied with a truly national brand, would help elevate the national organization and all its affiliates to assure greater success in support of students.
“As a result of our large number of affiliates across the country, Scholarship America is positioned to be driving impact on both the local and national level,” said Lauren Segal, President and CEO, Scholarship America.
For the past several years, Scholarship America has been working on the infrastructure to do just that. As of January 1, 2014, all local Dollars for Scholars affiliates are using the same technology platform and brand standards, as well as using the same scholarship evaluation philosophy and guidelines.
Last summer, Scholarship America hired its first senior vice president of education programs and policy, Max Espinoza, who is now developing research, policy and engagement efforts for the organization to deploy through the local affiliates. Espinoza has recently relocated to Washington, D.C. to expand the organization’s voice in the national dialogue concerning postsecondary educational access and success.
As part of this important work, Espinoza has participated in a number of education panels, including the National College Access Network’s Picking and Paying for College: A Discussion on Simplifying College Choice in November; the Institute for Higher Education Policy’s The National Summit on Redefining Access for the 21st Century Student in December; and the official launch in March of Higher Ed Not Debt, a new, multi-year campaign to address the twin issues of education debt and college affordability.
Scholarship America’s developing national presence and voice raises the profile of all our affiliates. In turn, leveraging our affiliates’ voices will continue to raise the profile and support the mission of Scholarship America: to assure that students have the opportunity to complete their education beyond high school with a manageable level of debt. And that’s something we can all get behind.
Bill and Sharon Richardson have supported their local Dollars for Scholars affiliate since 2000, when they established a Richardson Family Scholarship through Fairmont Dollars for Scholars. The Richardson family can trace their Fairmont, Minnesota roots back to the 1880s, attending the local public schools; many family members have also served as teachers and administrators in the district.
“Upon my retirement from business, my wife and I looked at gifting programs as part of our estate planning. She is a retired teacher and shares my interest in gifting for education,” said Bill.
Through friends, the Richardsons learned about Scholarship America and their local Dollars for Scholars affiliate, and initiated a scholarship program in their name for area students, to be distributed through Fairmont Dollars for Scholars. Over the years, they’ve enjoyed attending the award ceremonies and getting to know award recipients and chapter volunteers.
But Bill and Sharon also recognize the value of Scholarship America’s work on a national level, so in 2003 they decided to start making an additional yearly donation to Scholarship America.
“We appreciate what Scholarship America has done and are so impressed with the Dollars for Scholars chapter in Fairmont and what good work they’ve done with Scholarship America’s support. We like to think that this can be fostered in communities throughout the rest of the country. Our gift to Scholarship America is our way of supporting those efforts,” said Bill.
Today, Bill and Sharon are honored to be a part of Scholarship America’s Jefferson Society, an esteemed group of Scholarship America’s most generous donors.
Scholarship America is pleased to announce that we have completed the acquisition of ACT’s Scholarship Recognition Services (SRS) division that began last summer.
Like Scholarship America’s Scholarship Management Services (SMS) division, ACT SRS found success in offering scholarship administration services to corporations, foundations and government agencies. In 2013, the ACT SRS division distributed $32.5 million in scholarships to more than 19,000 students.
As a mission-driven organization, ACT SRS shared Scholarship America’s cultural values, service orientation, and service offerings. Combining our efforts to help students succeed through private scholarships makes strategic sense for Scholarship America and supports our mission and long-term strategic plan by:
- Increasing the number of annual student awards by 19,000+
- Increasing the total annual SMS disbursement by $32.5 million
- Increasing SMS client diversity and revenue by more than 30%
Providing increased future cash flow to fund Scholarship America programs and growth initiatives
We are pleased to welcome the ACT SRS team to Scholarship America’s SMS division, and are excited about the opportunities ahead to provide more support to students through scholarships and other education assistance programs. This acquisition helps assure that Scholarship America will achieve its strategic goal to assist 750,000 students achieve an education beyond high school by 2025.
Scholarship America To Hold Inaugural National Event in Spring 2015
Scholarship America’s inaugural national event to spotlight the importance of making post-secondary success possible for all students. This dinner will be held next spring and will honor those who have made a significant impact on helping students complete their college education. Sponsorship opportunities and reserved tickets are available. For more information, call Marian Marchese at 215-459-6085 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scholarship America’s Founder, Past Scholarship Recipients Featured on Katie Couric Show
Last October, Katie Couric featured Scholarship America’s founder, Dr. Irving Fradkin, on Katie, her national daytime talk show. In addition to a video profile and in-studio interview with Dr. Fradkin, the show provided Dr. Fradkin a surprise: scholarship recipients from 1961 to the present came out to thank him for his life’s work.
Katie and Dr. Fradkin also spoke with Hannah Truong, the 2013 Scholarship America Dollars for Scholars Student Volunteer of the Year. Hannah was an active volunteer with Bellingham Dollars for Scholars in Washington and is now attending college at Yale.
Katie is a committed supporter of Scholarship America, donating the profits from her first book to the Scholarship America Dream Award. On her show, Katie announced the official launch of the Dream Award; Scholarship America’s first Dream Award recipients will be featured on Katie in May.
Young Volunteers Honored Through the Kohl’s Cares Scholarship Program
Scholarship America knows the value of volunteers; after all, we have more than 10,000 volunteers across the country who work hard every day to raise and distribute scholarships to students in their communities, many of whom are volunteers themselves. Young volunteers bring new skills, energy and ideas to the world of community service, and the Kohl’s Cares Scholarship Program is a great way to honor them.
The program, managed by Scholarship America, is one of the nation’s largest youth-volunteer awards programs. Since 2001, Kohl’s has recognized more than 19,500 young volunteers and awarded more than $3.9 million in scholarships and gift cards. Student volunteers, ages 6-18, are nominated for the difference they have made in their communities; regional winners receive $1,000 scholarships, and 10 national winners are awarded an additional $9,000 scholarship. In addition, Kohl’s donates $1,000 to their favorite nonprofit, helping the cycle of service continue. The Kohl’s Cares Scholarship Program anticipates awarding more than $350,000 this year to 2,200 students across the nation.
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