Ahead of the Curve
by Ashley Brown
Each year, the Elks National Foundation scholarship staff attends the National Scholarship Providers Association annual conference. The NSPA is a national network of foundations, corporations, and higher education institutions who support and encourage college success for all students through the power of scholarships.
For the last three years, I’ve had the privilege of attending and learning from peer organizations on the best practices in scholarship program management. Besides being inspired by the great work of organizations who are making college possible for many students, I have continually been reminded of the great work the Elks and the Elks National Foundation are doing for students nationwide.
As my colleagues Jenna and Maryann will detail, the ENF is at the forefront of excellent scholarship programming and scholar relations efforts. From Elks Scholar Service Trips and Campus Meet-Ups, to our Scholar Advisory Board, we are connecting scholars to one another and the Elks and showing them the real meaning of Elks family. In addition, our responsive scholarship programming and dedicated volunteers ensure we are reaching the highest achieving students with the most need and helping them obtain their dreams of a college education. Every day and every year, ENF staff and Elks volunteers are making college possible for thousands of students nationwide and introducing them into a network of like-minded and charitable individuals.
63% of Elks scholars receive on average one to four other private scholarships, so engaging Elks scholars with their Elks family is an important and achievable goal. Read on to hear from Maryann and Jenna on how the Elks National Foundation is ahead of the curve on scholar relations programming and how we shared our knowledge with similar organizations.
The Gold Standard
By Maryann Slater
This year, the ENF got to present on how we provide “More Than Just a Check” to our Elks scholars through our scholar relations efforts. From encouraging scholars to meet-up on their campuses, to social media campaigns, to our Elks Scholar Service Trips, we offer scholars many opportunities to get involved with their Elks family across the country.
As an Elks scholar alum, I had the opportunity to take advantage of these opportunities in college and am extremely thankful for the opportunities that have been afforded to me by the Foundation.
I never realized, until attending NSPA last year for the first time, how unique the ENF’s scholar opportunities are when compared to other scholarship providers. The community provided by the National Scholarship Providers Association is one of a kind, as we learn from other providers’ best practices, and share about our programs with providers from across the country.
As I was preparing our presentation for the conference, I realized that as a scholar alum and ENF staff member, I had the opportunity to share my story of how the Foundation has touched my life and how I have seen scholars’ connections with their Elks family touch theirs and impact their college experience in a positive way.
When your story becomes your work, it’s a pretty special opportunity to do what you love and share that with others. When an attendee of our session called us the “gold standard” in what we do, we couldn’t have been happier and enjoyed reflecting upon how much we’ve grown in the past few years thanks to ENF donors’ and Elks’ support.
Connecting with the Elks Family
By Jenna Johnson
Regardless of where we are, we love the opportunity to connect with our Elks family! After our second day of conference sessions we met up with Elks scholar Hussain Rao, who attends the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Hussain received a Most Valuable Student scholarship in 2015 and is enrolled in a six year fast-track medical program. We loved getting to know him and hear how he first learned about the MVS scholarship and what he has been doing as an Elks scholar ever since.
We are constantly impressed not only by the accomplishments of our scholars, but by their character. We know they’re doing incredible work in the classroom and in their communities, but meeting up in person is such a rewarding opportunity.
The Elks National Foundation is passionate about our scholarships being more than just a check. We want our scholars, current and alumni, to understand that we consider them to be family. Therefore, we are intentional about building community wherever we go. Three times a year we offer service trips taking place in locations across the U.S. for our scholars to come together and serve in the name of the Elks. From selecting eight Elks scholars to serve on an advisory board to the Foundation, to hiring two Elks scholar alumni to work full-time in our office, the Foundation is proactive about scholar engagement, and meeting up with scholars while traveling is just one example of our commitment to building stronger community.