College Access Program
The College Access Program at River Road Unitarian Universalist Congregation has been sponsoring a scholarship program since 1990. This is now known as the College Access Fund; formerly it was called the Minority Scholarship Program. At the outset we funded 3 scholars. Over the years, as financial support from the congregation has increased, we have been able to fund up 11 scholarships in an academic year. To run the Scholarship program it is necessary to:
- raise funds
- decide how much money and for how long the scholars will be supported
- select and track the scholars
There are multiple different ways to raise funds for the scholarship program. At RRUUC there are direct pledges, an annual concert and income from a trust fund.
We fund scholars from College Bound at $1,500 per year (their request to keep our scholarship in line with others they receive). We fund scholars from Mentors Inc. at $2000 per year. These amounts are intended as "last-gap financial aid" to defray miscellaneous expenses so the scholar can concentrate more on academics and will not have to take on paid work during the school year. We also commit to funding scholars for up to four years of school. Therefore when we annually decide how many new scholars to support each year, we have to plan to provide $1500 or $2,000 per year for the next four years. We've developed a cash flow model to do this: we project how much revenue we will raise based on historical trends, and then decide how many scholars we should fund for the next four years. Recognizing that we’re making a four year commitment, we tend to be conservative. In the end, all money that is raised for the scholarship fund is spent on the scholars.
To select scholars we work with the two organizations mentioned that have experience in this type of work: Mentors Inc. and College Bound. Each of these organizations has experience in supporting students as they prepare for college and in running scholarship programs. Each of them collects information from multiple scholars. They present multiple candidates to us to select from. We then select the appropriate number of scholars based on available and projected funding. After scholarships are awarded, these organizations track the scholars from each of their respective programs. They get transcripts from each of the scholars and provide them to us. As long as the scholar remains in school with a 2.0 GPA, we'll continue to fund them. To receive semester funding, students must also provide a narrative of how each semester progressed and how the scholarship helped them.
Students may apply for funding an extra semester or year if extenuating circumstances have arisen, example: changing majors.