Scholarships Give Glimpses of Tomorrows

Guest Correspondence

For many of us, the first days of a new year are brimming with visions of the future, as this is the time we proclaim our resolutions and begin to carve out plans for how to see them through. 

That rush of energetic progress—setting goals, imagining a brighter tomorrow, and creating pathways to see aspirations become reality—is especially felt in the halls of our high schools at this time each year, as seniors devise plans for postsecondary education. Waiting for and receiving acceptance letters to universities, conservatories, certification programs, and community colleges boosts anticipation, but for too many, the elation of an acceptance is quickly eclipsed with anxiety about how to pay for this next big step. 

Driven by the ethos that education is the pathway to a secure, prosperous future, the Community Foundation of Sarasota County invests in opportunities for students in our four-county area, across a broad range of high school achievement and postsecondary interests, with a focus on need. The Traditional Scholarship Application for the 2023-2024 school year is open now through Feb. 15, 2023.  By completing a single application, local students are considered for more than 88 scholarship funds. The applications are reviewed by nearly 90 local community volunteers. Last year, the Community Foundation awarded more than $1 million in scholarships to nearly 300 applicants under the age of 24. While many were just heading into college and career programs, many of recipients were already college students when they applied, underscoring the need for renewal of support in an inflation-riddled economy. With the cost of living escalating along with college-related fees, scholarships are essential for helping students cross the finish line.

The scholarship cycle currently open is for so-called traditional students, those who attend a postsecondary educational or technical program soon after graduating high school. However, recognizing that each person’s path to higher learning is unique, the Community Foundation awards scholarships each year for older learners. The Adult Scholarship Application, for people 24 and older, opens February 2023. 

Overall, the Community Foundation awards more than $2 million annually to more than 700 recipients. More can be learned about the robust and varied scholarship opportunities available for adult learners, parents seeking higher education, and people aspiring to nursing programs by visiting the Community Foundation website.  

Even if you’re not returning to school yourself, there is still an opportunity to help aspiring students succeed. The Community Foundation is seeking volunteers to serve on a scholarship review committee. This rewarding undertaking connects adults in our community with those up-and-coming leaders, allowing a glimpse into the lives and aspirations of college-bound students. Our volunteers often tell us that getting to know the next generation through the application is a heartwarming conduit to seeing the world through the eyes of the youth. Volunteer scholarship committee members fulfill a vital part of our mission of supporting the next generation of leaders, innovators, and creators, and community caretakers. 

For everyone—the applicant and the scholarship reviewer alike—the new year offers an opportunity to reset and focus on the future. The Community Foundation is proud to have an impact on the lives of college-bound students with financial need. Along with our donors and scholarship reviewers, we’re honored today to shape so many people’s tomorrows. 

Roxie Jerde is president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County.

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