Scholarship Stone Soup

Vegetables

I say it a lot in this space – and in every space I can. If we are creating the future with everything we do,  and if that means we can create the future we want, then it is simple logic – community benefit organizations can create dramatic improvement to the quality of life in our communities.

So what will it take for every organization’s work to create healthy, vibrant, humane communities?

For starters, it will take knowing the answer to that question, rather than shrugging shoulders and wistfully trailing off, saying, “If only we had the answer to that question…”

Seriously, the only way organizations can create more significant change is to learn how to create that change.

Taking that one step further, if we want big, huge, amazing change to happen, it will take everyone in every organization knowing how to do that.

  • Executive Directors knowing how to align their day-to-day work with the community improvement they want to see.
  • Boards knowing how to govern towards those ends.
  • Consultants who work with those groups knowing how to aim their clients at that kind of change.

Because that is actually the mission at Creating the Future – that visionary change become the norm for community benefit work, rather than the exception – we are in the process of creating a scholarship fund, so more people can learn how to embed that level of change into their work.

But here’s the thing: we have never administered a scholarship fund. And so we could really use your help in figuring out some critical questions. Like how to decide who qualifies, and what to ask, and…

First, for some background, here is what we posted at StartSomeGood.com – the crowdfunding site that is hosting the creation of this fund.

Imagine adding rocket fuel to all social change efforts. Instead of slow, incremental change, imagine communities taking dramatic leaps forward, in a way that feels logical and natural. That is the reality for graduates of Creating the Future’s immersion program – the only program of its kind.

For 5 days, change agents learn from instructors and from each other, practicing methods for creating dramatic outcomes in their communities.

The scholarship fund offsets tuition (currently $1,750), making the course accessible to more people. Given the results students create immediately upon leaving the course, the fund is critical to achieving our mission: making visionary change this sector’s norm rather than the exception.

Donations are already coming into the fund, which is very exciting. But once the fund is set up, how do we decide who qualifies? That is where we can use your ideas.

  1. What has been your experience with scholarships like this?
  2. How do other scholarships work (to individual workshops, classes, conferences, etc.)?
  3. What questions should we be asking of applicants for scholarships?
  4. And especially, what questions would fit with our values and our vision – a world operating from its highest potential for kindness and humanity?
  5. What questions should we be asking of ourselves as an organization, to figure out what questions to ask applicants?

One last note, and this is a personal one. Alex and Tom at Start Some Good have won our hearts, as a shining example that funding doesn’t have to be competitive – that there is enough for everyone.Vegetable Portrait - the Green Grocer

Watching small gifts accumulate in that fund, I can’t shake the image of Stone Soup, the image of a community gathering to support itself.  Knowing that a change agent will be supported in his/her learning, and will be able to effect huge change, all because a lot of people gave $5 and $10 apiece – that image is so powerful.

It is all of us collectively being the change we want to see. And how cool is that?

To add your bit to the Stone Soup that is funding this scholarship, please head to Start Some Good. And check out the video to see the change you will be creating!

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Photo: Giuseppe Arcimboldo‘s GreenGrocer, via Wikimedia Commons

3 Responses to Scholarship Stone Soup

  1. I have a small amount of experience on both sides (I’ve recently received two very exciting professional development scholarships, and was on two other committees, one just awarding them; the other will be creating the criteria as well as awarding – eventually) and think that the folks at Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation could be very helpful as they do a lot of these.

    A few random thoughts that came out of the processes I’ve been a part of:
    = we had to ask ourselves if we were giving the scholarship (for local ED’s to go to the Harvard Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management program) to the person or to the organization – we realized that we had to be very clear about that. WE decided it was the person. Even if they left the organization they were ED of, or even the area, they’d use their knowledge for good somewhere, and that made the world better.
    – We tended to favor people who weren’t looking to go into the program to solve an immediate crisis in their organization, but those who had a bigger vision for the impact they wanted to have. (Obvious to you, but not to most of the applicants we saw.)
    -It’s nice to see evidence that the applicant is both a learner and is able to apply their learning. What other courses or classes have they been to in recent times, and how has it changed their work?

  2. Jenny:
    This is helpful beyond words. If you have some folks to introduce me to – perhaps send them this post – I would love to talk w/the folks at Berkshire Taconic CF (or others). Thank you SO much for this!
    HG

  3. Tweeted this thought – copying it here to broaden the convo beyond 140 characters 🙂 –

    One idea:

    1) Identify the characteristics that define a “kickbutt immersion cource” participant and/or scholarship winner, and
    2) Craft a scholarship application (survey, essay, Q&A, whatever) that prompts the applicant to provide evidence of those characteristics

    Be ready to be transparent about the evaluation process – all characteristics equally weighted? Some more important than others? Everyone votes or Hildy and Dimitri get the final word or some combo of that?