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Foundation scholarships benefit hundreds of students

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The CSU-Pueblo Foundation provides scholarships for hundreds of students. File photo
The CSU-Pueblo Foundation provides scholarships for hundreds of students.
File photo

Financial stress is an everyday reality for college students. According to a census survey, nearly 75 percent of students work and attend school, and an average of 15 percent of those students work full time while trying to maintain an academic schedule.

The Colorado State University-Pueblo Foundation exists to provide sustainable financial support to the university and its students in the form of private gifts and grants to achieve a shared goal of excellence.

According to the 2014 Stewardship Report, the CSU-Pueblo Foundation is continually working to create partnerships and build relationships to help the university and its 4,700 students earn a college degree.

In the 2014-2015 academic year, the Foundation awarded a record number of scholarships to students at CSU-Pueblo, giving an average scholarship of $2,250 to each scholar.

Todd Kelly, CEO and president of the CSU-Pueblo Foundation said, “As the Foundation nears the midway point of our three-year, $25 million ‘On The Move’ campaign, I am very proud to report that we have raised more than $11 million. The goal of the campaign is to increase scholarship opportunities, and I am pleased to report that we were able to provide $1.8 million in scholarships to about 800 CSU-Pueblo students.”

The application for the 2015-2016 academic year has opened on Jan. 1, and the Foundation anticipates that they will award close to that same amount.

Nick Potter, director of Scholarships and Donor Relations, said, “Last year, there were 2200 students that applied, and the year before that there was a little bit more. Roughly, you can say that there are 2,400 students that apply for these scholarships. That number is both students that have completed the entire application and students that have partially completed the application. Students that have completed the entire application are about 1,600.”

The application process is designed to be easy for the students as there is only one application to fill out online that will be submitted for every scholarship available.

“Basically, students can go onto their PAWS account and click on the ‘scholarships’ link, and it takes them directly to the scholarship application. They fill out one application, and then I do the legwork and actually match them to the scholarships that they’re applicable to receive. The students have to fill out one application so it’s one and done,” Potter said.

The Foundation office will go through each student’s profile and match him or her to the scholarships that fit best. The application process saves students a great deal of time because they do not have to seek out scholarships and apply one by one.

“If there is a scholarship that says they need a female nursing student of German decent with a 3.5 GPA, I find every student in the system and match them to that scholarship… The most that anybody will ever have to fill out is probably four essays. Four essays to open you up to all of the scholarships is a pretty good trade off,” Potter said.

Depending on the scholarship, the student could potentially be asked to participate in an interview process in order to receive the it. For example, The Kane Scholarship, which is a full, four-year scholarship at CSU-Pueblo, has a two-round interview process.

The Foundation qualifies under the 501 C3 nonprofit arm of the university and strives to develop relationships with donors as they actively seek to increase the funds for the organization. There are about 800 scholarship donors, including the Kiwanis Club, the Assistants League of Pueblo, the Construction Foundation of Colorado, the E M Christmas Foundation, ENT Federal Credit Union, the Southern Colorado Press Club, US BANK, Wells Fargo and the Classified Staff Council.

“We have individual donors who may just want to give back to the university community because they attended this school. They might have put us in their trust or in their will when they t,” Potter said. “We do what’s called Legacy Giving, which allows us to get into their will and trust plans so that when they do pass away they donate some money. We work on individual contributions with annual mailings, memorial scholarship mailings, stewardship reports, ‘thank you’ letters and pictures from their students.”

Other scholarship donors include national businesses such as Pepsi and Carpet Direct. As part of Pepsi’s contract with the university, they are required to give money to the Foundation for scholarships. Carpet Direct is in its 10th year of awarding $100,000 in scholarships, which means they have donated $1 million in the past 10 years.

“The President’s Gala is our big annual event in May and exists solely to help bring in money for student scholarships. Last year we brought in a little over $80,000 through this event,” Potter said.

One of the goals of the Foundation is to maintain meaningful relationships with all of its donors. Every fall, a scholarship banquet called “Friends and Scholars” is held toward the middle of September. Scholarship recipients are required to attend based on their contracts.

“This event is important because these funds are from private individuals, and so a lot of students think that they are getting money from a state budget that just kind of falls from the sky, and what this luncheon does is connect the scholar to the donor,” Potter said.

Not only is it important for the scholars to meet their donors, who have made a contribution to their pursuit of higher education, but it is also necessary for the donors to see that they are making a difference in the lives of many students.

“I met this one student who was just phenomenal. She had basically gotten one A- her entire time here, but she never, ever got a scholarship. I awarded her two scholarships. A few months later, I talked to her and I got to know her, and she shared with me that she was actually getting ready to quit school because she wasn’t getting any financial recognition. And she was getting worried about having to pay for school, because not only was she active at school, but she also had three jobs,” Potter said.

“When you have students who work really hard, and you never show them that you can kind of ease that burden, you really need to paint that picture for the donor so they see how they can make a difference.”

The Foundation’s mission is to advance CSU-Pueblo’s mission through philanthropic efforts designed to supplement and enhance University programs, activities and educational opportunities.

The deadline for the Foundation scholarship application is March 1, and a link to the application can be found on the financial aid page at www.csupueblo.edu.