Strategy on Saturday

Faith Sandler Words of Faith

After you read what my Saturday has in store, you will no longer bemoan how hard I work or wonder when I’ll get a break to relax. No one else has a job so inspiring among a group of people more committed.

Tomorrow, February 20, 2021, the board and staff of The Scholarship Foundation will gather for a planning retreat.  As was the case two years ago (when the photograph above was taken of one of our self-named planning teams) the attendance will be diverse, robust, representative.  In this photo alone, we find an accountant, an English teacher, a retired executive, a financial advisor, a fundraiser, an economics professor, and two social workers. And that’s just a small portion of the community “in the room”.

What you can’t see, in this photo or on the Zoom screen tomorrow, is the devotion that each person brings to our mission and purpose. Though not visible, the discussions will be true to guiding principles of economic and racial equity. Each person will bring their tandem skills of analysis and adaptability, so necessary in the year we just ended and in those to come.

Most importantly, our board and staff are consistently at work building trust and expecting respect. Tomorrow, there will be differences of perspective. We will want more data than we have. We’ll struggle with uncertainty. We’ll ward off widespread anxiety about economic recovery.  I imagine we’ll remind each other to keep our students at the center. And like every other day since our founding in 1920, we will learn again that the collective decisions made in deliberative process are better than any we might be tempted to make alone.

The 2019-2022 Strategic Plan of The Scholarship Foundation set forth these goals:

  • DEPTH: Further improve the FINANCIAL STRENGTH of awarded students through more and better services and funding.
  • REACH: Catalyze students and like-minded partners to create SYSTEM CHANGE that promotes better lives for students.
  • BREADTH: INCREASE THE NUMBERS of students the Foundation supports, directly through awards and indirectly through advising impact.

Tomorrow, we will look back at all that was required of us in 2020 and all that we and our students accomplished in spite of worldwide pandemic, raging racism, institutional instability, economic crisis, isolation and physical separation. While these terrible troubles are clearly not gone, we have the vision, leadership, community, and flexibility to turn attention to what we can know and do to advance these goals in the years 2021-2025. Tomorrow, we kick off a thoughtful and fully engaged process that will result in a new plan, under a consistent mission and vision.

Think of us tomorrow and in the coming months.  Know that we took seriously the graduate student who told our board, as the current academic year began, that the thing students most need (other than money to go to school) from The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis is the assurance of our consistent presence, of our persistent belief in them, of something enduring before, during, and after crisis.

You don’t need to look for us; we’re right here.

– Faith Sandler