We have a donor interested in awarding scholarships to middle schoolers as an incentive when they graduate from high school. Has anyone ever attempted this? Thank you in advance for any suggestions about how that would work.
so we have one scholarship meant for students participating in a Pop Warner football league (as middle schoolers) to get a college scholarship when they graduate high school. And I'll be honest--it's confusing and does not work. The students don't really remember who they're supposed to go to for the scholarship, and we end up getting a lot of panicked/demanding phone calls from parents asking for a check immediately (when it takes longer than that, since we have to track down the program staff who can verify that this student met the program goals to get the scholarship, etc. etc). Our staff turnover (not super frequent, but every few years or so) means that the staff are also confused when they get the parent calls as sometimes we can go a year or more without hearing from students for this scholarship.
BUT I do work with some nonprofit programs who do college savings programs for the students they work with starting at a very young age (as early as elementary school) and have seen a lot of success there. The program I'm thinking of has very deep involvement with their students and families all the way through college and for donors interested in funding students at a young age, that's a model I would more strongly recommend. (There's also research to support that having even a small amount in a college savings account helps promote a college-going mindset and buy-in to pursuing college). The Durham Children's Initiative is the program I'm thinking of: https://dci-nc.org/staff/. I've worked a lot with Julie Wells on college savings and scholarships and would recommend her if you're looking into this model!
We do this at our foundation with one of our funds. We have had a bit of confusion around it, but seem to have figured it out. We originally had the responsiblity falling to the school to be sure the graduate remembered their award; however, that was not working, so we took it on ourselves to contact every year to see who received it and connect with them. It can be challenging as phone numbers and emails change, so it could be tricky. We are able to contact a parent usually and eventually connect with the student recipient. I have an application that is specific to these students only and give them an access code to get in to their application.
@AlyseBraaten This is an interesting approach... have you seen this before?
Thank you @SarahBattersby, this is VERY helpful. We really appreciate it!