Today, the cost of higher education is skyrocketing. Many students are left with crushing levels of debt and no guarantee of getting a job in their field. More scholarship and grant funds are needed to help future entrepreneurs achieve their goals. Local businesses need to step up and help take responsibility for their communities.
Rusty Tweed, a business expert and philanthropist, discusses why it is important for businesses to offer scholarships within their communities.
Scholarships and Educational Access
According to the NCES, or National Center for Education Statistics, only 12 percent of undergraduates receive private scholarship funding. This surprisingly low number reflects the amount of time that it takes to search for scholarship opportunities, fill out all of the relevant forms and write essays.
Scholarships are one of the best ways to increase educational access. When a student earns a scholarship, this takes away from the amount of money that they would otherwise have had to borrow. Scholarship funding can be difficult to find and can almost seem like a full-time job to a dedicated student. When students are persistent and overturn every stone, they may be able to pay for a significant chunk of their college expenses.
One of the best aspects of private scholarships is that they are targeted to a wide range of majors and interests. Every student could find a scholarship that meets their needs if they looked for it. They may have to combine several smaller scholarships rather than receiving one big one, but their persistence will be rewarded.
How Higher Education Levels Help a Community
Higher education levels have a direct benefit to the community. Higher education at four-year institutions, community colleges and trade schools raises wages and enables people to put more back into their communities.
Even though some people question the necessity of earning a college degree, the fact remains that an individual earning a college degree can make up to $1 million more over their lifetime than a person with no degree. This is money that can be put back into the community through purchasing homes and paying property taxes.
Benefits to Local Businesses
Local businesses that endow scholarships will benefit in many ways. Being generous in the community is associated with better branding. Every time a business does something positive for the community as a whole, public opinion will improve. Attaching a company’s name to a scholarship also means that the recipient will feel gratitude and will spread the word about the company that helped them with their education.
Endowing scholarships draws positive attention to a company. When a company has a better public image, it will attract and retain more loyal customers. They will also have an easier time competing with other businesses in the community.
Business-targeted grants and scholarships are especially helpful. By encouraging a higher level of education among business leaders in the community, scholarship programs can have a tangible benefit that may not be felt right away, but which will continue far into the future.
How To Start a Scholarship Fund
The first step to starting a scholarship fund is establishing a budget. Business leaders will need to decide whether they will manage the process themselves or go through a provider. Next, they must find the funding. Many businesses have sufficient profit to endow a scholarship.
Next, businesses will need to decide who they want to help with their scholarship. Scholarships and grants intended for business students and those interested in entrepreneurship can be the most helpful.
Next, the paperwork and application will need to be created. The official terms of the scholarship need to be set down on paper, and the deadline will need to be established.
Promoting the scholarship is the next step. Creating press releases, advertisements and social media posts is a great place to start. Listing scholarships on popular aggregation sites is also a good way to spread the word.
Next, wait for the applications to roll in. Businesses will need to decide exactly how to measure the criteria they want to see in their applicants.
Finally, find the happy recipient of your scholarship. You may want to use their name, image or scholarship essay in a promotional manner, and this is fine if you ask for permission in advance.
Businesses Doing Their Part
Many large corporate sponsors like Burger King, Coca-Cola, Dell, Adobe and Google have instituted popular scholarship programs. Some of these programs also come with offers to interview for internships with the company. This helps to directly attract high-quality job applicants.
Scholarships Benefit Everyone
When a business starts a scholarship fund, everyone in the community stands to benefit. The business itself receives better exposure and branding, loyal customers, and a better-trained workforce. The community benefits when well-educated people live in it. These people are more likely to have higher wages, own more expensive homes and pay higher property taxes.
Finally, giving in its own right has intangible yet important aspects. Endowing a scholarship can give business leaders positive feelings and help them know that they are key members of the community. Rusty Tweed encourages local business leaders to think about endowing their own scholarships to help the community grow.