COVID-19 Concerns in Scholarship Management: Real Talk from Funders (March 25, 2020)

On March 25th, Scholarship Providers from our philanthropic community joined the Coffee Talk: Covid-19 Concerns in Scholarship Management to share resources, experiences, and creative solutions. We plan to continue this conversation through additional Coffee Talks through the coming weeks. For now, see what our community had to say:
 
(These comments were pulled directly from the session’s live audio and chat feeds. Find the full recording of this Coffee Talk below:

Coffee Talk: COVID-19 Concerns in Scholarship Management (Session 1)

 

New Application Deadlines

We are on hold, for new application deadlines, because of the means of dissemination...any ideas? 
Jocelyn Capeles-Perez - Battle Creek Community Foundation
 
Speaker (13:30)
Bettie Stammerjohn - Community Foundation of Greene County
We are just getting started with (Scholarship Lifecycle Manager)SLM. Because of doing our applications online we did extend our deadlines, our schools are extending their deadlines so we will maintain our April deadline but we will wave our transcript deadlines because most students won't be able to get transcripts if they haven't already requested them. We are in discussion if we will wave letters of recommendation. I am told by a couple of school districts. That are worried if all of the teachers (most students use teachers, coaches, or admin) will be able to respond to their emails? I have maintained contact with guidance counselors to get communications out to students about those deadlines. 
 
We actually decided to keep (Application deadlines) the same. Even though in the State of Kansas, school buildings were closed, the students still have access to the online application. Our review committees are all prepared to use Zoom to make decisions.The school counselors are reminding students. And we are emailing all students with drafts not submitted yet. 
Carol Sloper - Greater Northwest Kansas Community Foundation
 
Our deadline has passed (March 1) so we are not adjusting deadlines. Just moving committee meetings for April (for now) to virtual meetings and we sent a communication to all current recipients and applicants for this cycle about our timeline for selection and resources (financial aid and mental health). 
Julia Da Silva - Triangle Community Foundation
 
We extended our deadline (which was 3/23) to April 3rd. We then gave leeway to submit an application that doesn't have the required documentation (FAFSA, Transcripts, Recommendation Letters) We also said we will allow unofficial transcripts and screenshots of online grade reports. 
Kathy Kearny - SYL Foundation
 
Speaker (18:05)
Maureen Regan - Community Foundation of Greater Buffalo 
We actually have a couple of different deadlines. We typically release checks to the high schools before award ceremonies. That deadline was originally april 15 extended to april 30th we may be adjusting. We have an online process that we are keeping the deadline because applicants themselves are able to upload grades from first and second quarter for high school or fall semester for college so students should be able to login to any student portals. We are looking at scholarships with outside members that are on committees, some are technically savvy.. some are not so we are not sure how we are going to approach committee members getting their recommendations into us. 
 
Speaker (22:04)
Lee ONeil - The Community Foundation of Fayette County
Our scholarship deadline was March 20th after every school started closing so since we were only a few days from our deadline we pushed it out two weeks. We felt we could still require transcripts although we are not requiring official transcripts. We changed our letters of recommendations to not require a wet signature but could use a computer generated signature from their recommender. Started putting extensions and deadlines on social media. Since it's online, it allows us to track down who has incomplete applications. 
 
Speaker (25:00)
Ann Marie White - Horatio Alger Association
Fortunately(ish) our deadline was March 15th. We are trying to process those. The wonderful thing about the online application is we can open a single applicant and extend a single person's deadline so that's a nice thing about the program we use. Still trying to figure out how to fill our other scholarship, we are still trying to figure out what we're gonna do with those students. Those are now students who aren't getting the support they need. On top of that we are running an emergency fund. 
 
If you have a specific question on your scholarship application regarding number of volunteer hours are you changing the requirements ie. 52 to 30  
Michelle Frederickson - Chautauqua Region Community Foundation
 

Moving to Online Evaluations

Speaker (29:06)
Austin Klososky - Community Foundation of Oklahoma
We have one giant scholarship application timeline that we do once a year, thank goodness the deadline was March 12th. Not a ton of issues..we are mostly running into getting transcripts for those last people who were applying right on the 12th. I just scheduled 500 evaluations yesterday and urged leniency on transcripts. We had a lot of donors reach out  concerned about students not getting awards ceremony. We will distribute fancy certificates as an added thing since they dont get an award ceremony. I am interested to see how other groups who are transitioning to online evaluations are handling that.
 
What is one piece of advice to those who have never done online evaluations before: 
Adding an attachment that gives them directions on how to login in or how to do it. These people are busy people and only do it once a year, so it's really helpful to cutting down emails asking you to reset passwords about resetting passwords etc. 
 
Foundant creates evaluator tutorials that are GREAT! 
Julia Da Silvia - Triangle Community Foundation
 
We have been talking about Zoom award ceremonies. We just did a group of interviews this week, and the donor was thrilled by the process. 
Jocelyn Capeles-Perez - Battle Creek Community Foundation
 
We have a screenshot instruction attachment that works great for our evaluators.  Our evaluators always appreciate it.
Debbie Johnson - Boise Public Schools Foundation
 
Speaker (32:48)
Michele McGovern - Aldine Education Foundation
We have a couple things we are waving related to both our applications as well as our renewal awards. With our Applications we were initially requiring face-to-face meetings with a counselor, seeing they can no longer meet we are waving that one requirement. We are still requiring letters of recommendations and transcripts since students can get them electronically. And then for the GPA typically we require a minimum GPA before they receive their next year's scholarship award given the situation with college closings..we are going to be very lenient with our GPA requirements. It would be a disservice to our students if they were negatively impacted with their financial resources by things so far out of their control. We realize a lot of students have limited access to computers or even wifi and internet access. 
 

College Decision Day

Is there a good source to access to check on the status of college decision day? Googling the topic shows a national petition to postpone from May 1 to June 1, We cannot extend our app deadline of March 31 unless college decision day postpones. 
 Phyllis McConn - Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation
 
I haven't found a collective source for commitment deadline changes. But, I do know for example, that Gonzaga (in Spokane WA) extended its deadline to June 1st.
Anonymous
 

Dissemination through Social Media

In terms of dissemination through social media, do you pay for ads? We use social media but within our followers this means it does not necessarily get to new people unless others share.
Jocelyn Capeles-Perez - Battle Creek Community Foundation
 
Letting students know on your website, and through email through all your other channels that you will post updates on social media will get everyone looking in the same spot. 
Alyse Braaten - Foundant Technologies
 
We are not paying for social media ads. We are tagging eligible students' schools and asking them to share broadly all announcements regarding our deadlines and other changes. 
Michelle 
 
Speaker (39.00)
Michelle Mcgovern - Aldine Education Foundation 
We have extended our deadline, we are probably going to force our timeline to meet the may 1st requirement so we are going to work very hard this month to review over 1000 scholarships and make 300 awards so students are aware of their financial situation before committing to a college. We are going to do that because we feel we our students need to know that information. 
 
Speaker (40:28)
Jennifer Marino - The Pittsburgh Foundation
We have done all of these things.. not requiring transcripts, extending deadlines, emailing students. We did find it helpful to put a little money into social media ads and general advertising. Just started a test pilot to see if students will flow through instagram to out fondant application. So our communications department thought it was worthwhile to put a little bit of money towards that just to let all students know of the deadline extension. 
 
 We did pay for social media ads to announce our extended deadlines
Cathy Fitzpatrick - Scranton Area Community Foundation 
 
Speaker (45:32)
Bettie Stammerjohn - Community Foundation of Greene County 
I did pay for an ad this time. In addition I took the facebook posts and tagged as many community board members as possible and it worked. They started tagging their friends and our numbers went up considerably. 
 

Conflict of Interest (38:22)

We require all reviewers to read/sign a confidentiality/ Conflict of interest agreement before reviewing. How would others suggest we collect those with all reviewers moving to online evaluations.  
Michele Mcgovern - Aldine Education Foundation 
 
Speaker(51:46)
Betty - 
Is there a way to confidentiality and conflict of interest agreements is there a way that we can add that for reviewers and have them sign that and send them back. 
 
Speaker(52:46)
Kristin Aspin - Ashland County Community Foundation
For grants we use GLM and we actually created our forms using the GLM system and then that way we can just assign them like any other application. We needed a little help because we did it as a restricted process where only people with the passcode can access it. It basically just gets assigned! They go in to review it, sign it, date it and once they submit it, it's just there. And from there I have actually created reports to see all the forms collectively. It worked great!  
 
I'd love to understand the Internal COI form. Fantastic!
Lori Trenholm - Douglas County Community Foundation
 

Foundant Platform (42:04) 

I’d like to know if there is anything that can be altered to allow students to more easily complete applications via cell phone in case they do not have computer access at home. This would be in addition to removing upload requirements. Is Foundant platform fully functional in this capacity.  
Jennifer Marino - The Pittsburgh Foundation
 
I have had students fill out their entire application on their phone. Other then the uploads it does work very well. Admin can still access on mobile as well. 
Alyse Braaten - Foundant Technologies
 
Speaker (47:40)
Taylor Green - Cattaraugus Region Community Foundation 
We have sent out multiple emails to students. Opted to not extend the deadline, because of the fact that everyone will be working remotely, so that gave students and counselors two weeks to get their students applying. We do use social media for that as well. They can complete their applications online, my coworker can see the analytics online and can see that a lot of students are applying on their phone. 
 
We use a texting service and can text 100's of students at a time 
 Michelle Frederickson - Chautauqua Region Community Foundation

About the Author

Foundant Technologies

For more than a decade, Foundant Technologies has specialized exclusively in making philanthropy easier and more impactful through intuitive technology solutions. All of our cloud-based solutions focus on grantmaker, grantseeker, scholarship provider and community foundation needs with the goal to make day-to-day tasks streamlined and help maximize the impact of the philanthropic community.

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