2,100 Scholarships Awarded and Counting–How the Community Foundation Helps College-Bound Residents

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Shenandoah University

High school seniors face a hectic school year crammed with extra-curricular events, social activities, not much sleep, and more than a little stress about the changes, challenges, and excitement that college will bring. We interrupt this busy time in their lives with a promise—send us your hopes and aspirations, as well as your letters of recommendation and completed application, and we will consider you for a potential windfall of scholarship dollars from 60 funds. In 2022, more than $200,000 will be awarded.

Since our scholarship program began, $2.5 million in scholarships has been awarded to more than 1,100 students. In 2021, $175,000 was awarded to 51 students, averaging nearly $3,500 per student. The number of annual awards, and award amounts, have steadily ticked up over the years. Renewable scholarships, that follow students throughout all four years of school, have been a focus. The scholarship application itself has been updated several times, always with an eye toward making the program accessible to more students.

“To date, 30 Outer Banks students have been awarded multi-year scholarships of $20,000 or more, and another 25 have been awarded between $10,000 and $19,999, just from the programs we administer,” said Scholarship Program Manager Nandy Stuart. “Awards of these sizes represent significant financial support for these students, allowing them to focus on learning, achieving their degrees, and ultimately finding success in careers that match their aspirations.”

“Conversely,” Nandy continued, “one scholarship fund was established by a woman who received a $25 check to help her pay for college. Of course, this was a long time ago, and the amount was tiny; what struck this donor (who became a nurse), was that someone she didn’t know was willing to invest in her and show faith in her. She felt that if she could continue that tradition by encouraging others, they would feel the same sense of affirmation and support that she did.”

Each year, as the Community Foundation pool of scholarship funds, investments, and awards grows, the process to decide who will receive these awards is reviewed, improved upon, and called into play. In late winter board members and community members are invited to serve on one of several committees to review applications. The applicant pool is divided into opportunities that are based on need, merit, or discipline area.

Committee members review applications and engage in group discussions to arrive at the final scholarship recipient list for all available awards. Most of the 60 scholarships managed by the Community Foundation are available to all high schools, from Currituck to Dare to Ocracoke. It’s a competitive process, but there are many scholarships to be awarded, including those for four-year colleges, two-year schools, state colleges and universities, vocational programs, and more.

Scholarship awards are announced at each school’s Awards Night, usually held in April and May, and are listed on the Community Foundation website at https://obcf.org/scholarships/recent-recipients/.

If you would like to know more about our scholarship process or are interested in volunteering for a committee or establishing a scholarship fund yourself, please give us a call at 252-261-8839. The options for scholarship programs are almost as diverse as the students themselves.

If you’d like to read about the impact of some of the scholarship funds established over the years, we invite you to read these stories: