Here’s a HUGE shout-out to our Scholarship Committee members

betsy dayHere’s a HUGE shout-out to our Scholarship Committee members who scored scholarship applications and met with fund representatives over the past several months. Through their volunteer service, each application receives a thorough and fair review and the Community Foundation remains compliant with IRS regulations. We couldn’t do what we do without them.

Scholarship season, which is essentially January through June, is a busy time at the Community Foundation. We thrive on the excitement of meeting with donors, talking with applicants, reading applications, and learning of students’ aspirations. It bolsters our faith in this younger generation that is coming up through our schools.

Our generous donors are so very thoughtful and generous in creating and adding to the Community Foundation’s scholarship funds. They are the ones who get everything started – the first stone in the still pond, if you will.

But it’s our 70-person Scholarship Committee who keeps the ripples from the stone moving in never-ending circles, reaching more and more students each year and presenting scholarships in ways that create the most impact.

Being on the Scholarship Committee isn’t an easy task. Scholarship review begins the middle of February and goes through mid-March. Then the Scholarship Selection Committees meet from mid-March until mid-April. It’s an intense eight weeks of reading, reviewing, scoring, meeting, deliberating, and deciding. Lots of work in a short amount of time, but from what our Scholarship Committee members tell me, it some of the most personally rewarding volunteer work they have ever done.

As with all of our scholarships, the donors who start the funds also create the scholarship selection criteria. Often the criteria reflects their own careers, goals or achievements, or the interests of a loved one memorialized by their fund. Many donors have instructed our Scholarship Committee to select the best applicant based upon the criteria they indicated. Other donors have asked to play a role in the selection process.

Here’s where it can get complicated.

The IRS is very concerned about donor control for all nonprofits, not just the Community Foundation. For their contributions to be eligible for the tax deduction, donors must not exert any control over the gift once it has been given. To have donors or fund representatives able to review applications, they must “sit in the minority” of the Scholarship Selection Committee. This means that we must appoint more Scholarship Selection Committee members than there are fund representatives. Managing the selection process and assigning donor representatives and Scholarship Committee members for 190 selection committees is no easy task. Another shout-out must go to Cindy Palmer, our Scholarship Committee Chairman, David Hoffman and Jim Gangawere, our two committee Vice Chairman, and Gayle Sutch, Kim Fox, and Becki Delauter, our two-and-a-half person Donor Services Department, for managing the people, places and things that go into every scholarship decision.

When the Scholarship Committee finishes its work in a couple of weeks, it will have reviewed more than 1,000 applications and recommended scholarships exceeding $500,000 for the 2013-2014 academic year.

Because of our dedicated Scholarship Committee volunteers and staff, the Community Foundation continues to present scholarships with life-changing impact that are For Good. Forever. For Frederick County.

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