By Jared Lindell
By now, over 1,000 Chautauqua County high school and college students have submitted their application materials for Community Foundation scholarship assistance.
With applications in, this process now ends for students but is just beginning for CRCF. Over the next few months, staff will sort applications, committees will meet, and awards will be made…which is actually a very impressive process.
To truly understand the work that goes into the scholarship process, each step must be viewed on its own accord. The first is from the staff perspective. After all applications are received, CRCF staff review each application individually to make sure all the information has been filled out correctly and that all forms have been completed. Once every piece of information has been submitted by every student applying, the CRCF staff then inputs each application into a database, one-by-one. After all the applications are input, they are electronically sorted within the database, matching up students with funds they might qualify for. This process takes a little over a month.
This leads to the next step in the process, which is providing the scholarship committees with vast lists and applications of potential recipients, based on the electronic matching process. The committee members review each student individually and anonymously to determine who best fits with specific scholarship funds. After some deliberation, the committees make recommendations on who should receive awards, based on different fund criterion. While this sounds simple, these committee volunteers are giving countless hours of their time to review the applications, sit in meetings, and make objective decisions based on the information provided to them. Additionally, to better understand the scope of this process, nearly 200 individuals volunteer to serve on scholarship committees. Their work begins in September and ends in early November, equaling three months’ time that each committee volunteer gives to make sure each student is evaluated properly and fairly. This process could not take place without volunteer dedication and support.
The final step in the process is the scholarship award recommendations are brought to the CRCF Board of Directors for approval in November. Upon that approval, letters are mailed to students, acknowledging them of their scholarship awards. When all is said and done, this will likely amount to over $700,000 of assistance provided in 2007, which would surpass the $690,000 awarded last year. These numbers demonstrate how the Foundation continues to have a positive and growing impact on the lives of area students.
Looking at the scholarship process as a whole demonstrates the care CRCF staff and volunteers have for area students and their futures. The Community Foundation knows the vital importance of education and tries to do all it can to give students every advantage possible. This is reflective of the months of work put into the process. CRCF is proud of every student in Chautauqua County that works to improve their own lives and is equally proud of the effort put in by CRCF staff, committee volunteers, and Board members to make this effort possible. The Community Foundation scholarship process is, yet, another example of how working together can equate to a world of good for the Chautauqua Region.
Published in the August 19 edition of The Post-Journal