Where can you turn to find help? Look no further than the Toledo Lucas County Public Library. This month they are presenting College Days 2009, a useful program designed to aid students and their parents in navigating the often confusing world of scholarships.
Foundations are a source that is often overlooked in the search for educational funding. Most people know that foundations give grants to non-profits, but did you know they also provide scholarships to individuals?
According to Foundations Today: The Foundation Yearbook 2009, during the year 2007 -- the most current year tabulated -- $3.4 billion in scholarships and other grants to individuals were reported made by foundations.
The statistics show that more than 270,000 individuals benefitted from grants and scholarships made directly by foundations in 2007.
In order to make sure that more people are aware of this important source of funding, the Library included a special two-hour program on foundations on Saturday October 17, 2009, at the main library’s McMaster Center.
The three-part College Days 2009 series began on October 3 with Mary Plews, the library’s Teen Specialist, focusing upon sources on the Internet and at the library to help with choosing majors, careers, and colleges.
La Prensa sat in on the second session which featured David Holmes, the regional training coordinator for the Foundation Center in Cleveland. His presentation showed how to easily work your way through the maze to find foundation grants for you or your child’s education.
Prior to joining the Foundation Center in February 2005, Holmes was a program officer for the Stocker Foundation in Lorain. Earlier, he served as Director of Grants and Prospect Research at Notre Dame College in South Euclid. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Pittsburgh, a M.A, from Villanova University and a MLIS from Kent State University.
Using a power point presentation, Holmes told the attentive although sparse audience that foundations give scholarships to recognize academic excellence; to help students who demonstrate financial need; to recognize athletic or artistic talent; to foster interest in particular fields of study; to help members of underrepresented groups, and to assist students from their local community as well as those of a particular faith or ethnic background..
Other private sources of support that should always be looked at include: professional associations, clubs and groups in the community, the religious community, population-specific organizations, and corporations/employers.
Holmes stressed the necessity of student applicants to articulate their plan of study by clearly defining what is their major area of study or research, will they be studying part-time or full-time, where do they intend to study (identify the school), when do they plan to enroll, and how does their plan fit into their overall goals?
Most importantly, applicants need to first create a total budget representing the projected costs of their studies.
Holmes explained the importance of investigating all possible options to fund a college education, including federal and state grants and loans, work-study, and institution-based aid.
Also vital in the process are the creation of individual and affiliations profiles.
Once a student has researched the availability of scholarships through sources such as the Foundation Center Web site (www.foundationcenter.org), they can begin the application process.
Holmes said it is vital to apply early and to multiple sources. Applications made during November and December of this year should ideally be for classes in fall 2010. He cautioned high school students not to wait until the month before they graduate to seek scholarships. It will take time to gather recommendations and important information.
There is no generic form for foundations. Applicants need to get the latest guidelines from each funder. Holmes said some foundations require an essay, statement of intent to study, or letters of recommendation. He underscored the importance of focusing upon leaving a strong impression of who you are as an individual.
One of the many helpful suggestions made by Holmes is that applicants follow a checklist. As his presentation pointed out, “Ask yourself: Did I complete the application in full? Did I proofread it? Did I attach everything they asked for? Did I make a copy for my files? Did I request an interview? Did I check to make sure the funder received my application?”
Holmes was followed on the program by Joanne M. Olnhausen, Communications and Scholarship Officer of the Toledo Community Foundation. Her brief remarks to the audience served to further validate the numerous points made by Holmes in his presentation.
The third and last program in the College Days 2009 series will again bring Mary Plews to the Library’s podium, She will conduct a program dealing with financial aid basics on Saturday October 24 from 1-3 at the Main Library’s McMaster Center. Parking is free for attendees.