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Note to Donors: Do You Know What You Have Done?

September 20, 2018

Impact

Atonement

Last night, many broke the fast at the close of Yom Kippur, the highest of Jewish holy days on which those observing review the prior year, atone for transgressions or actions left undone, and set intentions for the coming year. Yom Kippur is a ritual practice of reflection and reconciliation.

Two nights ago, we realized that we had scheduled a board committee meeting for the morning of Yom Kippur and we then immediately cancelled it. We’ll now apologize, reflect on how that oversight occurred, reschedule the work, and continue to strive to be true to our roots, welcoming of all, and respectful of the many beautiful differences among us.

This is who we are, imperfect and unfinished.

Reflection

Looking back over the year, The Scholarship Foundation has not been able to provide opportunity for all students of the region who need our support. We have not cured the diseases of economic or racial inequity. We haven’t rebuilt the historic and entrenched systems that have caused diseases to fester. It’s not hyperbole that democracy is imperiled. Gaps between the haves and have-nots have grown dramatically. If you are a donor to The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis, though, it would be a mistake to conclude that your gifts have not contributed mightily to repairing the world.

Donors, do you know what you have done in the last year?

You have:

  • Financially supported a set of remarkable students who have demonstrated their potential and achieved beyond expectation. If you need proof of this, see results depicted in data here.
  • Helped the Foundation’s advising team provide just-in-time and literally lifesaving advice and counsel to 6,000 students and family members unfamiliar with the admissions and financial aid processes.
  • Provided the resources our staff needs to quietly conduct individual acts of kindness beyond measure. Among them we have: travelled across the state to meet a graduate at her discharge from a psychiatric hospital and helped her get resettled and back to work; convinced a local school district to reinstate the A+ status (a state scholarship program) of a student who had met all the requirements but was denied the graduation sash and medal when the Missouri Legislature prohibited undocumented students from the scholarship; assisted a student who survived the flooding of her family home in completing her degree and taking an intensive summer course in city management; provided grocery gift cards to 25 students suffering hunger; crafted individual repayment plans for graduates experiencing illness and/or unemployment; and, matched 15 students with paid internships in important community work that will enhance the field and build their resumes.
  • Applauded and enabled the expansion of advocacy work led by those directly affected by public policies heretofore made without their input. The Foundation has a six-year history of following the lead of students in developing and determining an advocacy agenda for higher education and financial aid policy, and for three years has fueled a statewide student coalition in these subjects. Donors have made possible expansions of such student-led policy work into the fields of racial and economic equity in financial capability and health.

As donors and supporters of the work of The Scholarship Foundation, THIS is what you have done in the last year. Thank you to all who have built the strength and reach of The Scholarship Foundation. As we enter the coming year and move toward our 100th anniversary in 2020, we remain true to our mission and vision, addressing what remains imperfect and unfinished.

Call to Action

If you are moved by what you have done as a donor or would like to join the long list of donors of gifts of all sizes, now is the time. The Foundation has announced its 2020 Vision and the annual campaigns of 2018, 2019, and 2020 will culminate in our centennial year celebration. To magnify your gifts and make known our continued commitment to this community, note that:

  • Gifts of any level, toward any and all purposes, are meaningful.
  • Cumulative giving across the three years will be combined for recognition in 2020;
  • Gifts to any fund or purpose will be credited cumulatively for celebration in 2020; and,
  • Two specific giving opportunities have been created for the anniversary year and announced now for gift planning purposes:
    • Visionary Gifts of $7,500 represent the average annual interest-free loan or grant awarded to a student (and these gifts will allow us to fund more students by 2020).
    • Centennial Legacy Gifts of $100,000 support students over the next 100 years through individual, foundation, and combined family giving.

The community strengthens the work of The Scholarship Foundation through its financial support, contributions of time and wisdom, leadership, and referral of students and those working with them. In reflecting on last year and setting intentions for the coming year, we are grateful for all the love the community has expressed for the organization and especially for our students and our mission. We are strong and committed to growth. We need the community’s help to move forward even further.

This is who we are, imperfect and unfinished.

And we are driven to realize a world of opportunity and equity, a vision set forth by our founders who began the work as St. Louis Jewish Scholarship Foundation in 1920.

- Faith Sandler