In nonprofit lingo, you’ll find the word “partnership” used to describe everything from an annual contribution to interdependent programs. Fancy words for nonprofit work are plentiful: collaboration, cooperation, alignment, affiliation, replication, collective impact, evidence-based, data-driven. The Scholarship Foundation partnership with the community of founders and supporters of Ava’s Grace Scholarship could be described using many of these phrases, but none would tell the story of the power of education and the love of learning, borne of partnership, that Rico Beuford tells.[Blogger’s note: STOP HERE! If you’re busy and can’t spend too much time reading, please just abandon the remainder of this post, click here, and let Rico do the rest of the talking.]
Rico is coming to the close of his six-year MD program at University of Missouri-Kansas City. Ava’s Grace Scholarship was founded by Stephanie Regagnon and her family and friends 9 years ago to support students who had experienced the effects of incarceration in their families. The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis is approaching 100 years of service to St. Louis area students.
Partnership between Ava’s Grace Scholarship and The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis has evolved in wonderful ways, in this ascending order:
- Discussing key elements for scholarship programs.
- Sharing guidelines, criteria for eligibility, and selection.
- Creating online application process and printing paper documents for offline review.
- Training in online review, sharing evaluation tools.
- Coordinating student awards to “fill the gap”
- Combining opportunities for outreach to applicants.
- Providing coaching and advising to students.
Last year we made the relationship official by signing a grant agreement so that Ava’s Grace Scholarship and the students benefitting are a program of The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis. Stephanie, her family and friends, donors to Ava’s Grace, and the students and families who support them are Scholarship Foundation partners in ways too numerous to adequately explain here.
That’s why Rico’s story, in his words, may be the best lesson in the reason for nonprofit partnerships. Soon-to-be Dr. Beuford makes clear what he’s been able to learn as a result of financial support, mentorship, community engagement, exposure to other countries and other cultures, and critical educational opportunity. He even offers tips on coping skills he has learned while in medical school, from accepting and offering help to physical exercise to learning how to garden:
“Something about putting the worries from the day into the soil and allowing something to blossom from my stress is beautiful… being in this (6-year medical school) program has given me more than enough stress to open up a botanical garden.”
What an honor it is to stand with Rico, his friends and family, Stephanie, and the extended Ava’s Grace network, and watch this garden grow.
– Faith Sandler
Read Rico’s story here: