satellite image of North America at night

Points of Light Amidst Plenty of Darkness

Faith Sandler Words of Faith

satellite image of North America at night

It can be hard to see the light.

We are indeed surrounded by literal and figurative darkness. Right now, the days are short and the nights very long, where most of us live. The stock market has spiraled downward and adding that to the unknown implications of the new tax code makes organizations like ours anxious. The students of The Scholarship Foundation face darkness in the forms of rising costs and declining aid, hunger and homelessness, threats to undocumented families, and the lifting of regulations that had provided some protection from for-profit schools and from unscrupulous lenders.

Sometimes we are looking in the wrong direction.

This nation recently buried a president who spoke of “a thousand points of light”, referring to the people and organizations spread throughout the land who give time, resources, and support to build community, help individuals less fortunate, and advance the common good. In eulogy, President George W. Bush explained that his father understood that such acts of giving back “enriched the giver’s soul.”

I write with proof that there is light.

Because you already know about all the darkness, I’m especially pleased to share here some very new, important, and carefully kindled points of light that you can perhaps see from where you are sitting. On January 1, 2019, Scholarship Foundation applications will open with $3.2 million in interest-free loan awards available and twenty Scholarship Foundation scholarship grant programs will be making awards totaling $2.1 million.

The Centennial Collaboration Scholarship and BJC Scholars Fund Scholarship will both be expanding significantly in 2019. Both programs added students this year, and we are excited to continue that momentum. Ava’s Grace Scholarship, a program new to the Foundation in 2018, is also likely to expand. Two entirely new scholarship programs are opening as well, extending our reach and deepening our roots.

A significant new scholarship for students from rural Missouri will prepare young people for stronger futures and career opportunities. Initially providing 15 students with scholarship grants of up to $10,000 annually, this scholarship will help us forge new relationships and reach students who are often first in their families to pursue college. Like all Scholarship Foundation programs, this scholarship will be renewable and will be “last dollar”.

Also newly created, the Scholarship for St. Louis Public School Graduates is funded by a St. Louis family committed to education and will: support post-secondary opportunity; reduce student debt; encourage those who may be low-income or first in their family to earn a degree; and, contribute to advancing racial equity in the region. The scholarship will provide five students annually with up to $6,000 in the form of a scholarship renewable annually through graduation or a maximum of ten semesters.

You’ll find more information about these and all the Foundation’s student funding programs on our website.

We can thank the visionaries among us.

The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis ends 2018 stronger than ever with an increase of 15% in public support, an increase of 21% in direct funding to students, and a commitment to launching the next century of service in 2020, our centennial year. When our board and staff gather for strategic planning in February, the days will be a little longer and the darkness less palpable. Still, it appears clear there will be no shortage of challenges to face.

Thank you to each of you who have seen light in the achievements of our students, known the power of higher education to build community, and have given your time, wisdom, influence, dollars, and encouragement. You have surely kept the lights on!

– Faith Sandler

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