Centennial Collaboration Scholarship Approaches Full Strength

Jamie WilgerNews

This is a case of the same name, new meanings.

(left to right) CeAira Simmons and MyTresa Taylor of College Bound, Claire Wyneken of Wyman, Tashanna Rucker and Becky James Hatter of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri, and Bryan Capers of Wyman watch with pride as the newest Centennial Collaboration Scholars take the stage this summer.

When the Centennial Collaboration Scholarship was started in 2014, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri was celebrating its 100th year. An area family foundation supportive of The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis and of Big Brothers Big Sisters became programmatic matchmaker, funding a collaboration between the two organizations to support students beyond high school graduation with scholarships encouraging college enrollment and degree completion.

Just a few years later, in 2017, the program was further expanded to encourage applications from two additional partner organizations: Wyman Teen Leadership Program (now Wyman Leaders) and College Bound–St. Louis. The annual scholarship maximum was increased from $10,000 to $12,000, and the program began growing toward the goal of 100 student awards per year. As the 2019-2020 school year opened, a total of 85 Centennial Collaboration Scholars were attending 25 different public colleges and universities in Missouri and Illinois.

Collaboration among the partner organizations, the family foundation contributing the funds for the scholarship, and the community of scholars and their families has strengthened each and every year of the program. It appears that the program will reach the goal of 100 students in 2020, the year that marks the centennial anniversary of The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis.Graph of Centennial Collaboration Scholars from 2014-2019, showing rising number of students and rising awards over the time period

At this year’s student award ceremony, staff and program leadership from Big Brothers Big Sisters, College Bound, and Wyman joined The Scholarship Foundation on the stage to welcome 54 new scholars to the fold. In the audience, family members choked back tears as they rose to capture photographs of their loved ones shaking the hands of so many celebrating collaborators.

Among the crowd were those who quickly noted that this is indeed what community looks like. A college-going culture knows no limitation of geography or school district or specific nonprofit mission. In fact, it is in the collaboration among these elements and the celebration of the strength of students over so many years that promises a strong future for the scholarship program.