Month of May is Bittersweet


The month of May always seems bittersweet.  On the sad side, churches have services to read their annual memorial book, we prepare for the Memorial Day parade and observance, and the Foundation prepares a list of gifts we’ve received over the past year in memory of loved ones.


Making this list is always a time of reflection – both of joy and sadness.  My uncle always makes a gift in memory of my grandparents.  My grandfather died before I was born and Grandma Helen was feisty all her 97 years. Good memories there!


Some friends passed away within the past year and it’s hard to think of them being gone.  But rather than mourn, I prefer to treat it all as a celebration of life.  How boring would my life have been had these people not been a part of it?!


On the happy side, May brings lots of graduations, weddings, the end of the school year (no more yelling about homework), and scholarships.


We are very excited to be working with Morris Community High School to transfer their scholarship funds to the Community Foundation.  And what’s even more exciting is the fact that these scholarship funds will be endowed, therefore the family name will live forever and (through our investments and management) the funds will always be able to provide scholarship monies each spring.


The Community Foundation of Grundy County did not exist when the families set up these scholarships at MCHS, so maybe they didn’t envision what an endowed scholarship fund can look like decades down the road.  But now that the funds are being transferred in, I hope the families can be equally excited about the fact that their one-time gift will fund annual scholarships – forever.


Setting up an endowed scholarship fund at the Community Foundation is fairly easy and straight-forward.  The two main questions you want to ask yourself are: 1) how much do we want the scholarship amount to be each year? and 2) what criteria do we want to set for the recipient?  Will it be to reward a job well done (academic scholarships) or to fund a particular field of study that you care about?


The criteria takes some thought and I ask you to not be too narrow in the scope.  Because your endowed scholarship fund will last forever, please take into account that things change and there should be flexibility for the future.


Also, please consider scholarships for students other than high school seniors.  Things have changed and now people of all ages are furthering their education, whether it’s a 2-year college, 4-year university, tech school, vocational training, or certificates.


Another idea is to consider designing your scholarship fund to pay for internships.  By the time a student is a junior or senior in college, past scholarships are spent and the student has committed to a major field of study.  Wouldn’t it be cool to fund Grundy area students to come home and do an internship here?  We’d all benefit!


How much money does it take to endow a scholarship?  It depends on the amount of the annual scholarship you want.  Our endowment distribution policy is 5%.  So some quick math:


$10,000 endowed scholarship fund = $500 annual scholarship

$25,000 endowed scholarship fund = $1,250 annual scholarship

$50,000 endowed scholarship fund = $2,500 annual scholarship

$100,000 endowed scholarship fund = $5,000 annual scholarship


And so on.  Please note: the figures above are estimates.  All funds at the Community Foundation of Grundy County are invested and there is some exposure to the stock market.  However, our policy of calculating the 5% annual distribution on a 12-quarter rolling average should even out the market highs and lows and provide for a consistent annual scholarship amount.


Also, the scholarship fund you design doesn’t have to be for just one scholarship.  You can impact many students with multiple scholarships or you can really impact the life of a student by awarding a large scholarship.


The key to remember is that you as the donor get to design it to meet your passions and the ideas that your care about.  And I’m sure there’s a student out there who’s a perfect match!


If you are interested in learning more about scholarship funds at the Community Foundation of Grundy County, please contact us via phone at 941-0852 or e-mail at [email protected].


Happy Memorial Day, everyone!