Four Women Part With Their Money (Part 2)

Author: Necole S. Irvin

Nationally, the cost of college tuition continues to rise.  This is an unfortunate fact.  While not the only or complete answer, scholarships are a solution for many.  This two-part post is about the post-college desire and clarity that three friends and I had to give back by creating a scholarship for Black women attending our alma mater. While this is our story, we hope it provides guidance for anyone considering this path.

In Part 1, FDE (the name my now life-long friends used in college) committed to creating a scholarship, met our financial goal and in conjunction with a community foundation began preparing for our first recipient.  As a part of the preparation we reached out to our alma mater.  Reconnecting with the university’s development office provided an unexpected opportunity to expand our original vision.

When we first started our alma mater wasn’t an option because of the size of our scholarship but by the time we were ready to launch circumstances had changed.  A donor to the university funded an incentive program to increase the number of endowed scholarships.  With a minimum commitment of $50,000, the incentive program would match funds 1:1.  This meant an investment of $60,000 would now be a fund of $120,000.  The minimum commitment was higher than FDE’s original goal of $15,000 but we decided that it was a challenge we could meet.  We each reevaluated our ability to contribute within the next six months, recommitted and succeeded in reaching out goal!

We transferred our fund from the community foundation to our alma mater.  Our scholarship is now administered by our academic institution, which includes the application, selection procedures, and policies.  By participating in this program we were able to go from a small book scholarship to an endowed scholarship that will have a larger impact on each recipient’s educational debt.  Our scholarship is our legacy.

Endowed scholarships are permanent.  An endowed scholarship fund makes awards based upon the annual earnings of the fund’s principal. Normally, 80 percent of the earnings are devoted to one or more scholarship awards while the remaining 20 percent of earnings are re-invested with the principal.  Academic institutions have varying allocation strategies, minimum creation levels, fees and naming rights for endowed scholarships. Our alma mater allowed us to name our endowed scholarship.  We chose ‘1968 Scholarship’, in honor of the first year Black women graduated from our university.  When we began our adult learning together we had no idea that one day we would choose to honor four women who paved the way for our experience.
4 women part 2
A question that all donors must answer is whether they want to promote their scholarship.  There are many reasons for scholarship promotion including raising funds, increasing the visibility and prestige of the award, and expanding the number of applicants. While it was not an unanimous decision we agreed to promote our scholarship for two reasons. First, we wanted to honor the women that paved our way and celebrate the legacy of our friendship. Additionally, as four Black women at a PWI we want to broaden the real and perceived gap of Black alumni giving and participation.  One of our first promotional steps was to announce the 1968 Scholarship to the alma mater’s Black alumni group.  The announcement included a challenge to our fellow alumni to meet and exceed our success.

Another important question to consider is the appropriate level of involvement.  Determining the level of involvement with scholarship recipients should align with the purpose of the scholarship.  Is your scholarship about a specific profession?  Is it important for you to monitor your scholarship recipients progress? FDE decided that we wanted a connection to our recipients. We want each recipient to understand why we created the scholarship and their place in its legacy.  FDE understands the value in serving as a resource and building a network to aid in long-term success and want to contribute non-monetary resources to our recipients.

Reflecting on our experience shows that creating a scholarship is doable.  We did it.  Four friends overcame challenges, kept a focus on why we started on this journey and did not let the years deter us.  We are now celebrating the first recipient of the 1968 Scholarship!  I am so proud of myself and each of my friends.  Our journey was just that — ours.   I hope that these posts provide you with food for thought and inspiration as you determine if creating or supporting a scholarship program is for you and your family or friends.

If you are interested in an academic institution administering your scholarship, contact them and find out their requirements.  An additional resource is the National Scholarship Providers Association is the only national organization dedicated solely to supporting the needs of professionals administering scholarships in colleges and universities, non-profits, foundations, and businesses.

Four Women Part With Their Money (Part 1)

Author: Necole S. Irvin

Nationally, the cost of college tuition continues to rise.  This is an unfortunate fact.  While not the only or complete answer, scholarships are a solution for many.  This two-part post is about the post-college desire and clarity that three friends and I had to give back by creating a scholarship for Black women attending our alma mater. While this is our story, we hope it provides guidance for anyone considering this path.

My friends and I met our freshman year of college and are still having a FDE blast!  (FDE was the name of our group and if you went to school in Atlanta during the early 90’s you might have attended one of our “events”.)   Several years after graduation we began talking about how we could give back.  We attended a well-endowed PWI (aka predominately white institution) and while alumni giving requests were not particularly enticing we desired to contribute to the place that played an important role in each of our lives.  We decided to create a scholarship.

When one is considering the creation of a scholarship the first step is to determine the purpose.  Why is the scholarship being created and how will you determine its success?  We all graduated with debt and understood how that can influence your future.  As a result, creating a scholarship to support Black women and help reduce their educational debt was the path we chose. In the early days of our discussions, awarding a scholarship was how we defined success.

Creating a scholarship requires funding.  Is it funds you have saved, solicited, or a generated via a family/collective account? After several years of discussion, FDE committed to each annually contribute $500 and once we met our goal of $15,000 we would begin awarding a scholarship to cover book fees.  At the time there were many things we didn’t discuss.  Would we continue an annual contribution to the scholarship fund?  What would be the duration of the award? Would it be an annual scholarship? We also failed to consider if we wanted the scholarship to remain only ours or invite others to contribute.

Even with the unknowns we were clear in our purpose.  We wanted to support someone like us which meant gender, community service and financial need were important.  Geography, field of study or academic achievement including grades, rank in class or standardized test results were not.  The selection criteria should support the purpose of the scholarship.These and many other considerations must be thought through as you develop the scholarship guidelines and selection criteria.  The selection criteria should support the purpose of the scholarship.

Pivotal to the success of any scholarship program is who will administer the scholarship and what will it cost?  When we committed to creating a scholarship for a student at our alma mater we approached them as the logical administrator.  Unfortunately our aspirations didn’t reach the institutions minimum levels.  This didn’t deter us.  One of us worked at her hometown community foundation and we started our fund there.  What is right for you will depend on factors including the type of student you want to help, how much you want to give away, and how much say you want to have in choosing the recipients.  The four of us lived in different cities and the community foundation was the right fit for us as we built our scholarship fund.

Even though life challenges (loss jobs, unexpected financial crisis, shifting responsibilities, stock market plunges, etc.) stretched our original timeline several years longer than expected, our commitment remained strong.  Once we reached our original financial goal we agreed that the community foundation would serve as the administrator of the scholarship.  We started considering our role beyond raising the funds to support the scholarship.  One of the things we talked about was how to ensure that students learned of our scholarship and applied.  We reached out to our alma mater for guidance.  This decision changed the trajectory of our story and the future impact of our scholarship.

Part 2 will follow our journey as we worked with our alma mater and prepared for our first scholarship recipient.  Check back next week to continue reading about our experience.

Giving Thanks

Thank y’all for an amazing month.  When we officially launched UjimaSouth we could not imagine the amount of support we would receive.In just one month we have established a social media presence on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  Plus, we have hosted our first event and are preparing for a panel presentation.  We are so grateful.  Thank you!

Let’s get ready to take 2016 by storm…together.

Our online followers have likely seen us using our hashtag, #igiveblack.  Starting today you can order merch via our website.  What an awesome way to kick off #BlackFriday AND support a black business, right?!? Take a look and place an order today!

Learn with US

On December 2nd, UjimaSouth will launch a series of webinars. This first webinar sets the stage for giving in 2016.   The theme for the four webinars in 2016 is ‘collective giving.’  Collective giving allows like-minded people to pool their resources, research community needs and decide as a group where to invest.  Being part of a group can enrich the giving experience for all. Collective giving is a participatory process that is proactive and can be formalized in a variety of ways including family scholarships, giving circles and volunteer relays. Giving together amplifies the power of philanthropy. Join us by registering for one or all of our online learning opportunities.