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Emergency Scholarship Funds

On the Coffee Talk today we had some great stories shared about starting and managing emergency funds. One important note is that though these funds are normally taxable income, the current federal recognition of a national state of emergency changes that.

If you already offer emergency funding to students, please share your applications and any other materials or advice. If you are interested in starting one, this is a great place to ask questions.

Alyse Braaten | Manager of Client Services – Grants & Scholarships | www.foundant.com | Bozeman, MT

[email protected] | Direct: 406.922.3376 | Cell: 661.364.1012

Comments

  • One of my questions would be how it works? Do you make the assistance grant directly to the student or to the school?

    Our policies currently do not allow grants/scholarships to be paid to individuals or to for profits.

    So that may limit our participation with an emergency assistance fund for students.

    Bettie

    Bettie Stammerjohn

    Executive Director

    Community Foundation of Greene County, Pennsylvania

  • @BettieStammerjohn I know many foundations have emergency policies that kick in during a state of emergency that make allowances for grants to individuals and for profit entities. Community Foundations across the country are administering CARES Act funding to small businesses. They are able to do so through these established emergency policies. If anyone has language your board approved for this, please share.

    Alyse Braaten | Manager of Client Services – Grants & Scholarships | www.foundant.com | Bozeman, MT

    [email protected] | Direct: 406.922.3376 | Cell: 661.364.1012

    TylerKern
  • Thanks Alyse. I would love to see any emergency policies.

    We established an emergency fund to help nonprofits, but had not considered allowing grants to students or others.

    Bettie

    Bettie Stammerjohn

    Executive Director

    Community Foundation of Greene County, Pennsylvania

  • Our Board passed a COVID relief memo in June that included the Student Assistance Fund and a GPA waiver for our current scholarship recipients for spring 2020.

    The Student Assistance Fund does pay directly to students, to ensure they can rapidly use the funds. We offer Award funds, which are grants to individuals, so we were able to do so (regular scholarships do go to schools). It is essentially a cash grant of up to $500, to support needs related to housing, learning supports, child care, health care, housing, travel/transportation and food. We evaluate applications on a rolling (weekly) basis using the following criteria. Once fund are exhausted for the fiscal year, the fund will close (but we had a donor give us a substantial gift, so we can keep it open for now!)

    • Use of Funds — Priority is given to requests to support the categories listed above.
    • Demonstration of Need — How clearly is the need defined? How strong is the request?
    • Urgency of Need — What is the immediate impact of this funding? What are the risks of not receiving this funding?
    • Attempts to Receive Funding from Other Sources — Has the student attempted to receive funding from their school emergency assistance fund, etc.?

    More info here: https://trianglecf.org/award/student-assistance-fund/

    Application included! It's an SLM process; since this fund is at present only open to current scholarship recipients, they all already have an SLM account and are familiar with it. We tried to make the application as short, trust-based, and accessible as possible. We will be asking students to tell us the impact of their funds in a few months, so we can share with donors for continued marketing/fundraising, but are not requiring reports. We've already heard some great feedback from students, and our donor-advised fundholders have been responding.

    My last note on this is that one of our primary goals in our new Impact Area of Education & Youth (that includes our grant program but ALSO scholarships) is to ensure that students can both access and complete their post-secondary degree. This is a huge piece of that and I hope post -COVID we will be able to continue it, as we know students struggle with housing, food, etc during normal times too.


    BettieStammerjohnTylerKern
  • @SarahBattersby Thank you so much. I listened with interest yesterday, but it is nice to see/hear some of the mechanics I may have missed while making notes.

    I will share this with my committee and board for consideration next year. I agree that an impact on helping students not only accessing post-secondary education, but completing it is a great goal that I'd like to strive for. We already have more donors establishing multi-year renewable scholarships so that is a plus. That also allows us to develop more of a relationship with the student!

    Bettie

    Bettie Stammerjohn

    Executive Director

    Community Foundation of Greene County, Pennsylvania

  • @BettieStammerjohn We also approved in our new policy last fall that all of our scholarships can be used towards cost of attendance rather than restricted to an item/items of the donor's preference (tuition but not housing, etc). I think that's allowed students to use their awards mostly flexibly and utilize all their other aid. None of our donors had any concerns beyond making sure students knew that those funds could potentially be taxable!

    KaraAdamsTylerKern
  • edited August 19

    If you missed it or would like to hear it again, here's the link to the podcast of last week's Scholarships Coffee Talk. There were some great discussions surrounding starting and managing emergency funds!

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