As a parent whose wallet is still flattened by repeated wallops from college tuition payments, I try to find ways to soften the blow for rookie parents who are just entering the fray.
One such cushion could be a modified scholarship offered through the Blue Grass Community Foundation.
Since 1995, the Irene and C.W. Sulier Scholarships have been awarded to one bright student at each of Lexington's five public high schools. That part hasn't changed.
But officials with the foundation have added a component to reward students who not only perform well in the classroom, but also in the community. The foundation is seeking applicants who have taken part in or created some type of volunteer endeavor.
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"What we are looking for are students who are outstanding in philanthropy," said Lisa Adkins, president and CEO of Blue Grass Community Foundation. "The purpose is to grow charitable giving in Lexington and throughout the Bluegrass."
The foundation, created by the Suliers with a permanent endowment in 1967, is an umbrella organization or clearing house that disburses money from individual donors and charities.
This year the qualification for the $1,000 Sulier scholarships was tweaked to encourage more volunteerism, Adkins said.
"We are excited to see what kind of innovative, creative and entrepreneurial spirit they (the applicants) have," she said.
The philanthropy could involve a charity at their schools, with a community organization or a national nonprofit, she said.
"It's about creating something for the public good," Adkins said. "We want to see what they are doing in the Bluegrass."
That renewed focus will be seen in other aspects of the foundation, she said, which is concerned with more than scholarships. The foundation will launch a new initiative soon that involves a family — like yours and mine — creating a fund that it can contribute to. Then, as the fund grows, the family can determine how that fund will be given out.
This new project is the foundation's way of getting more everyday people involved in giving back to the community and to help children understand the importance of community service.
But right now, the scholarship is the carrot being dangled in front of young people about to head off to college. The hope is that when a student sees academics and community service being rewarded, both will become integral to their lives.
Applicants must have at least a 3.0 grade-point average, be graduating from a Fayette County public school, be planning to attend an accredited college, university or community college, and have evidence of active involvement in philanthropic and volunteer causes.
The application is available on line at www.bgcf.org.
But don't lose heart if you don't think you qualify for the Sulier scholarship. The foundation has dozens of others available for students living in Fayette and many other counties.
For example, the Wilma Pigg Poynter Scholarship Fund awards a scholarship to Eastern Kentucky University for a Laurel County student. And the Loren Richards Elder Care Scholarship is given to a Kentucky Community and Technical College graduate going to a four-year institution and majoring in a field that would benefit the elderly. Some scholarships target men, some women and some minorities. Some are need-based and some focus on academics.
For more information about scholarship availability, call Kassie Branham, foundation grant and scholarship coordinator, at (859) 225-3343. Or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Then, with degree in hand, consider starting your own fund with as little as $10 and let it build up into a blessing for whomever or whatever you choose.