Designing Scholarship Funds

All of the forms are in and the checks have all been cut, signed, and mailed.  Scholarship season is over for another year!


Community foundations are experts when it comes to donor-designed funds – charitable funds designed by the donors who set them up so that the grants from the funds support the causes that they care about.  One type of donor-designed fund that we can hold and steward for you is a scholarship fund, which is a pretty straight-forward concept: monies are awarded to students to advance their education.


But beyond that, donors can get very creative.  Would you like your scholarship fund to be for high school seniors to attend college?  How about a trade or technical school?  What about older adults wanting to finish their degree?  What about students working on a Masters or PhD?  Can the student be part-time and working or must the student be enrolled full-time?


Will the scholarship be for a particular field of study or only for students who are low income?  Does the student have to be on the honor roll or would you consider C-average students who might otherwise not get a chance at an academic scholarship?  What industries do we have in Grundy County and what fields of study are employed by them and can we use more students in that field?


What you choose is okay with us. After all, it is a “donor-designed” fund.


The process for starting a new scholarship fund goes like this:

  • Determine the amount of your initial funding and the form of that deposit – will it be cash, real estate, or appreciated stock?
  • Do you want this fund amount to be spent down over time or do you want to endow it so that it provides scholarships forever?
  • Do you want to be anonymous? You can give the fund a name the suits you and/or the purpose of the scholarship;
  • Contact Julie or Devan to get a “new fund form” so that you can fill in the blanks as you make your decisions; return the form to Julie or Devan so they can prepare a “Fund Establishing Document;”
  • Decide who you want to recommend to sit on the selection committee. Now, this is the tricky part due to the Pension Protection Act of 2006.  According to the IRS and the updated law, donors cannot have a heavy hand in selecting the scholarship recipients.  You can be part of the committee, but the committee members must represent a broad, unbiased cross-sector of the community.  And, of course, relatives and close friends of the donor cannot be selected to receive awards from the donor-designed fund;
  • Work with Devan to define your scholarship selection criteria;
  • Choose which of our four asset classes you’d like your fund to be invested in: Aggressive, Moderate, Conservative, or Low Risk. We are very proud of our globally-diverse investment strategy and have past reports for you to review in order to make your selection;
  • Sit back and relax while we steward the fund. We mail you a quarterly fund activity statement showing deposits, grants, gains or losses, and fees;
  • Start communicating with us and your selection committee in January so that applications can be posted;
  • Review applications and select the recipient;
  • Present the check to the recipient; and
  • We do all of the back-of-the-house administration!


These are just the basics and we would love to brainstorm details with you!  Please be sure to contact us at 941-0852 or stop in at 102 Liberty Street in downtown Morris if you would like more information!




2013 Scholarship Recipients from funds stewarded at the Community Foundation of Grundy County:

  • Grundy Area Vocational Center
    • Charles “Pete” Muffler Scholarship: Logan Steffes
  • Morris Community High School
    • Robert & Melissa Ciota Scholarship: Harmony Alford
    • Eugene L. Funk Scholarship: Justin Barkley
    • Fred W. Anderson Scholarship:
      • Shelby Haynes
      • Olivia Kief
      • Nancy Serrano
    • Mark R. McTague Scholarship: Jessica Eastman
    • Roger Gordon Scholarship: Grace Backus
    • Espi Siron Scholarship: Erinne Smith
  • Minooka Community High School
    • Allison Rivera Memorial Science Scholarship: Paige Mass
    • Allison Rivera Memorial Literary Scholarship: Amanda Crozier
    • Minooka Lions Club
      • Joseph Dearduff
      • Hailee Goodale
      • Marissa Post
      • Jessica Zohrer
    • Minooka Women’s Club
      • Brianna Franzen
      • Jamie Huff
      • Kaitlyn Richards
      • Jessica Shellhorn
      • Mallory Traver
      • Jessica Zohrer