Community Foundation Gears for Scholar Season

Education

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY MONDAY BUSINESS EDITION MONDAY MAY 8, 2017

Philanthropic administrators with the Community Foundation of Sarasota County will conduct interviews and award $1.8 million in various scholarships to students in the area in coming weeks. With 84 different types of scholarships in the works, the distribution of funding for higher education makes Sarasota one of the most generous communities in the country when it comes to supporting college ambitions. “Some very generous individuals have entrusted the Community foundation with their donations, and really believe in how we operate our scholarship programs,” says Earl Young, manager of scholarships and special initiatives.

Some 700 high school seniors applied in January for the array of scholarships, and more than 500 students will likely receive some sort of award, all as part of the scholarships offered to traditional college students (meaning those who head to college immediately after high school). Most of the awards will be in the $2,500 range but the foundation will award a couple scholarships that could be worth as much as $100,000 over four years.

Murray Devine, marketing and communications manager for the foundation, says the philosophy for the organization has shifted in recent years from providing simply a financial means to students and toward also providing a support network to ensure academic success for scholarship recipients. Coaches and mentors will help college students, particularly those who are the first in their families to pursue higher education. “They can also help with those things that happen outside the classroom,” he says.

Young notes many first generation college students don’t have family to help navigate the bureaucracies of universities or to deal with the logistics of decisions like switching majors. Mentors will help provide that kind of support.

“What we saw in the 1990s and the 2000s was an effort in making college more accessible and knocking down financial barriers,” Young says. “Now, the goal it to make sure as many as possible graduate college.”

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