West Fargo Area Dollars for Scholars
The West Fargo Area Dollars for Scholars Chapter is active and thriving and always in search of additional members, according to Chapter Past President Dorinda, who serves as city business development director, Anderson who has been an ongoing part of the recruit bandwagon.
The Chapter is led by a volunteer board of directors consisting of business leaders, educators, and parents, whose goal is to promote awareness and provide information on the vital role the local Chapter plays within the educational community.
"We all donate our time as volunteers and we could certainly use new members," Anderson, who serves as city business development director, said during a recent interview. "We have four members on the committee that have now resigned who have dedicated over five years to the group."
Anderson has served as president for the last two years, with Greg Mastrud now taking over in that capacity. Other members include: Sue Benson, vice president; Ava Archibald, treasurer; Sue Zurn, secretary; and Heather Stulken, Jennifer Fink, Peter Murch, Crystal Reber, LaDonna Wiederholt, and Susan Bailey, committee members. The West Fargo Area Dollars for Scholars Chapter was formed in 1990, with the express purpose of raising local dollars for student scholarships, funded by endowments and contributions from the community residents and businesses. Additional funds are raised through memberships and special fundraising projects. The organization has 501 C 3 status, making all contributions tax deductible.
The very first $1,000 in revenue raised by the group was received Nov. 29, 1990, from the West Fargo Public Schools. This donation provided the source to fund the first five $200 scholarships that were presented to graduating seniors in 1991.
Since its inception the Chapter has come a long away, awarding 660 scholarships totaling $300,650 for all types of post-secondary education.
Last year the Chapter was able to distribute $500 scholarships to each and every student applying for the scholarships, quite an accomplishment according to Anderson. "Last year we received 60 applications and we funded all 60. It's so great to see that the organization has grown to the point where we are able to do that."
Anderson noted that one of the big misconceptions is that individuals think the scholarships are for high academic students. "People think they don't have a chance of being awarded one, but that is definitely not the case. The grade point average of recipients range anywhere from 2.2 to 4.0." In 2006, the GPA of students receiving scholarships ranged from 2.93 to 4.00, with an average of 3.64.
A wide range of factors go into determining scholarship recipients that begins with evaluating various categories in each application including: personal data, with work experience; extra-curricular activities, educational objectives and unusual circumstances; applicant appraisal; scholastic performance and aptitude.
As many students as possible are encouraged to apply, Anderson said. "Out of the class of 400 last year, we only had 60 interested," Anderson said. "We looked at the funding we had and decided we could fund 60. Right now $500 is the maximum amount, but we want to eventually looking at increasing that amount also."
Right after the beginning of the new year - in January or February - is a good time to apply. The applicants are scored in April and the scholarships presented at a special awards ceremony at the conclusion of the school year.
Anderson said that business donations are the most important aspect of the endowment raising effort, praising the generosity of those who contribute, many on an annual basis with consistent funding amounts. "The best thing is every single penny goes toward scholarships, so it is a great investment." She added that wise investing by the board the last couple of years has also been a sound move, increasing the investment portfolio, which means more money for more scholarships.
Anderson said that she is enjoying her association with the organization. "It is a very rewarding board to serve on and a much needed asset in the community. It is great to see recognition that is not based on your grade point average, but the individual as a well-rounded person."
On that note, she encourages anyone with a little time on their hands to attend a meeting and become a member. Approximately 20 to 25 hours of committed time is all that is required, and becoming involved doesn't necessarily mean serving on the board. Members can also assist in secondary areas as their schedules permit.
The Chapter meets the second Monday of every month at 7 p.m. at West Fargo High School, with membership set at only $10 per family a year.
All in all, Anderson said it is the financial contributions and volunteer time of members that are so important in ensuring the availability of scholarship funds for years to come.
Anyone interested in sponsoring a scholarship, making an annual contribution, or volunteering their time, can contact the West Fargo High School Counseling Office for current West Fargo Area Dollars for Scholars information, visit with any board member, or correspond with the organization at PO Box 981, West Fargo, ND 58078.
More information about the local Chapter is available at www.west-fargo.k12.nd.us/district/districtinfo/dollarsforscholars/