Seeking Selby Scholars



January heralds many changes, including the beginning of “scholarship season” here in the Sarasota area. From now through April, many of our region’s clubs and non-profits are accepting applications for undergraduate scholarships for students starting college in Fall 2016. The total amount awarded is in the millions of dollars per year, making our county one of the most generous in the state. Among the hundreds of local awards, a few stand out as particularly valuable, and of those, none is better known than the Selby Scholar award.

For more than 50 years now, the William G. and Marie Selby Foundation has been supporting local students in their pursuit of undergraduate degrees. What began as a few small gifts from the forward-thinking couple to help their employees pay for schooling has blossomed into a million-dollar-per-year scholarship program that has helped thousands of local students. The tradition carries on to this day, with 40 new students selected each year to receive the award, which can be worth up to $7,000. Unlike most other scholarships, the Selby Scholar award is automatically renewed each year, which helps to ensure not only that the student is able to attend college, but more importantly, to stay there until successfully graduating, a feat achieved by over 90% of recipients.

But the Selby Scholar award is more than just money. Every year during Winter Break, we invite all 160 current Scholars to a special luncheon at Michael’s on East, where we match each one with a member of our community who works in the student’s chosen field of study. So if the student wants to be a doctor, we find them a doctor to sit with, and so on down the line for engineers, artists and business majors alike. It’s a great opportunity for the students to ask questions about the field and to dig a bit deeper into the realities of their soon-to-be profession, not to mention the possibility for internships or even future employment.  A few scholars have even gone on to work full time for their community partners after graduation. By fostering these connections between students and local employers, we are creating incentives for smart and talented young people to remain in our region after graduation, the benefits of which extend to everyone in our community.

Applications for the Selby Scholar award become available in early January and are due no later than April 1 of each year. Students must either be graduating seniors from a local high school OR graduating AA/AS degree students from a local community college, and must be planning to pursue a bachelor’s degree on a full-time basis. A minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA is required both to apply and to retain the scholarship if awarded. We recommend planning ahead when applying, since our application is a bit more rigorous due to the high value of our award. Make sure you have completed the FAFSA and have your Student Aid Report ready. More detailed information is available on the Selby website at:

Sarah Pappas, president, and Evan G. Jones, grants and scholarship manager, for the William G. and Marie Selby Foundation.

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