Topic: Ideas? Setting up a scholarship program

Hi everyone. Hoping you might have some ideas for helping organize a local scholarship program.

A local pianist/organist died at a young age. Her family has a "sizeable" fund from the memorial gifts given.  They would like to help 4 deserving kids receive piano lessons.  The father contacted contacted the local schools and received no help.  He talked to a local piano store and made plans to buy 4 keyboards for the kids to use.  The piano store owner suggested that he should gear the program for 5 to 7 year olds.  The father then called me, looking for help in designing an application / interview / grant process.

I'd love to help him, but have never done anything like this.  Guess I was standing in the long (or wrong?) line when they passed out the creativity gene.

Have you done something like this? Do you have some great ideas? Or, can you point me at some good reference materials?

Many thanks-
Ruth

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Re: Ideas? Setting up a scholarship program

Dear Ruth -

What a wonderful idea for a scholarship to be established in memory of the keyboard player.  I'm sure you'll receive some great advice from Forum readers and will come up with your own good ideas.  You'll have fun coordinating this process and are sure to have satisfaction when you see it come to fruition.  Just some very general advice from my own experiences:  (1) everyone is really really busy these days and (2) one person "CAN" make a difference!  This time - YOUR number has come up to do it!  wink

In a "BLINK MOMENT" - I don't agree with the owner of the music store to spend the memorial fund on children ages 5-7.  Although I certainly agree and encourage kids to start music at an early age (actually, I'm doing "volunteer work" now in teaching piano to 4 of my friend's very young children).  At this age, "Aunt Marsha" is more like a buddy and making music fun and like a game - getting them interested and seeing how positively music is affecting their lives.

Personally, the memorial fund seems more like a VERY special and treasured gift - and I would feel it be best directed toward a young adult - expecting to pursue a career in music - probably much like the person who died.  Someone who has already practiced and worked hard at the keyboard for many years and is hoping for a chance at college. 

Since you had no luck with public schools, what about some of the private high school performing arts schools in your area?  Or, perhaps the family has roots in another country -  in Europe or a 3rd world country - where so many musicians excel and work very hard but have very little money?  What about coordinating a benefit concert at a local church - hiring a musician or 2 to kick off the event of the scholarship fund and trying to raise money to continue this gift - perhaps leading to an annual chamber music concert at the church.

If it were me coordinating this gift, I would try to figure out some way that this money will be "on going" so that the spirit of the dearly departed (I wish I knew his name) will forever be present.   

Before my best friend died some 15 years ago, she requested that on her tombstone it be inscribed, "...and there shall be music where ever she goes."  This is just something to think about.

Please remember - these are only MY ideas and feelings that I've come up with in the few minutes that I'm thinking about this.  I'm sure there will be readers who disagree.  But, ANY gift is just that - a "GIFT." And really and truly, a gift should be given with no strings attached.  So, whatever you decide - it is sure to be wonderful!

Sincerely,
Marsha

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Re: Ideas? Setting up a scholarship program

How about having an annual performance competition for the scholarships? You could award to the top 4 performers, or divide into 4 levels according to years of study. Is there a local organization of piano teachers - let them conduct the competition, use some of the funds to hire a team of judges from outside the area. If there's no such organization, ask around until you determine who are the most esteemed piano teachers, and ask them to serve as a steering committee. Make the performance a big public event, with lots of news coverage.

A similar competition in my area (a small city of 66,000) stimulates and inspires far more students than the small number who win the actual award. Dozens of the top high school musicians prepare all year to make a good showing at the public competition. They learn from hearing each other. For most of them it's more about the prestige of winning than it is about the money.

By the way, the competition in my area is managed by the local community foundation, which administers all kinds of endowments and grants. Perhaps if you get it started, a local arts organization or other appropriate group could take it over.

Louise Hillery

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Re: Ideas? Setting up a scholarship program

My son was killed in a car accident in 1994.  Following his death, a Scholarship Fund was set up through the High School he attended.  Requirements for applicants were established to try to award the scholarship to the graduating senior who was most like my son.  Funds were handled by the local " County Foundation", a civil service group devoted to fund raising and scholarship awards for all students across the county.  They are superb at handling $$ and have invested their funds at an extremely high return.  It took a short while for this particular scholarship fund to be self generating, but after a very few years we were able to offer a $1000 scholarship (which in todays educational $$ isn't much) and have had 12 very qualified recipients.  It took about $10K to endow the scholarship at this level...the account has continued to grow (currently about $19K), and we are discussing increasing the award.

While my wife and I are very interested in participating in administering this scholarship, because we were still teaching, it was taken out of our hands by good friend and active educator within our community...and I am thankful that he chose to lead this thing.  Now that my wife and I are both retired, we are becoming more active in administering this..will help choose recipient this year, and are solicited regularly for input regarding all aspects of the scholarship.

I'd be glad to answer any specific questions I might help you with...contact me through my profile

Just my $.02

-Frank Watson

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