At Scholarship America, we’ve provided more than $3.1 billion in scholarship assistance to students across the nation and the world since our founding in 1958. Those students are at the center of everything we do -- because when high school kids become college graduates, we all win.
In the words of Scholarship America President and CEO Lauren Segal, we are dedicated to “students of all walks of life, backgrounds, ages and experiences – whether they are pursuing certificate programs or studying at a 2-year or 4-year college or university. Unfortunately, too many students are dropping out of college, swimming in debt, leaving this nation in a crisis of too few people prepared to fill the jobs of the future.
“That is why Scholarship America is focused on the finish line – degree or certificate completion, not just access. And we have an ambitious goal to help 750,000 students complete their education by 2025 with a manageable level of debt.”
And that’s why Scholarship America’s most recent annual report looks at our Focus on the Finish Line. The Annual Report recaps our achievements over the past year; more importantly, it also introduces students we’ve helped at every stage of their education -- from starting college to staying in school to graduating.
These students include Hannah, the winner of our 2013 Dollars for Scholars Student Volunteer of the Year Award. The daughter of Vietnamese refugees in Washington State, Hannah spent her youth not only as a student, but as a translator for her parents and a volunteer in her community. Her parents’ own struggles gave Hannah a unique perspective on her volunteer work at a local homeless outreach center: "While I was volunteering at the outreach center, I often thought, ‘This was my parents once.’ They were facing a country where they had nothing, and relied on others to help them. This was my way of giving back for them," she said.
For her academic achievements and dedication to service, Hannah’s local Dollars for Scholars affiliate submitted a Student Volunteer Award nomination; as the national winner, Hannah earned a renewable scholarship from Scholarship America Dollars for Scholars, supporting her through four years at her dream school, Yale University.
We also celebrate students like Kari. A young mom widowed by a tragic car accident, Kari enrolled in an occupational therapy certificate program at a Wisconsin technical college. She was able to balance the demands of work, parenthood, classroom time and field work, but the cost of school was making it harder and harder to make ends meet.
At risk of cutting back or dropping out, Kari turned to Scholarship America Dreamkeepers, which provides emergency financial assistance to students who may not be able to stay in school otherwise. A grant from Dreamkeepers helped her pay for gas and utility bills, allowing her to focus on the finish line -- and she’s since earned her certificate and found full-time work in her field.
And we celebrate students like Paula, whose parents had to defer their own college dreams when she was born. Thanks to both her family and her schools growing up, Paula knew that becoming the first in her family to complete college would be crucial to her future -- but she also knew that paying for school would be a struggle.
Fortunately, the young student, athlete and aspiring teacher was able to turn her academics and activities into a number of scholarships, including the AT&T/CWA/IBEW Academic Awards Program, one of the more than 1,000 corporate-sponsored awards managed by Scholarship America’s Scholarship Management Services. She graduated from the University of Texas-El Paso last spring.
"Your act of generosity has helped to make my pursuit of a degree that much easier," said Paula in a thank-you letter. "Due to your support, I will be able to help inspire my students to achieve their dreams, just as you have helped me."
These are just a handful of the millions of students that Scholarship America has helped focus on the finish line over the years. To meet more -- and to go into the eye-opening statistics about student loan debt and the need for completion -- visit our Annual Report online, and click below to sign up for our email newsletter, The Scholar, so you don’t miss a thing!