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How to Establish and Promote a Corporate Scholarship Program

Better application management of scholarships, grants, awards, and more.

How to Establish and Promote a Corporate Scholarship Program

Corporate scholarship programs hold significant value in today's educational landscape, serving as a catalyst for both education advancement and corporate social responsibility. By establishing and promoting a corporate scholarship program, organizations can make a profound impact on the lives of students and the community at large. With this in mind, below we’ll explore what you need to know about establishing as well as how to promote a corporate scholarship.

Setting the Foundation for a Corporate Scholarship Program

Setting the foundation for a corporate scholarship program involves laying the groundwork and establishing key elements that will shape the program's direction and impact.

You’ll begin by assessing your corporation’s values and objectives.

The reason this is the beginning stage of creating a scholarship is simple - you want the ultimate recipient(s) of your corporate scholarship to have values and objectives that align with those of your company. Not only will this help protect your company’s reputation, but it also ensures you won’t upset your stakeholders. The last thing anyone wants is for your recipient(s) to be the antithesis of the mission of your organization. It can tarnish your brand, and ultimately impact your bottom line.

Next, you’ll identify the students and educational focus for your scholarship.

It is essential to determine the specific group of students that the scholarship program aims to support. This can be based on factors such as:

  • Academic merit
  • Financial need
  • Underrepresented demographics, or
  • Specific fields of study.

Taking this step helps you focus your approach while maximizing your program’s focus. It will also make it much easier to create qualifying questions for your scholarship application when it comes time to create that.

Lastly, you and your scholarship committee (and/or shareholders) must agree on the final eligibility criteria and program details.

It is crucial to determine the final criteria based on which the students will be selected. Identifying the target student population allows for a more focused approach and maximizes the impact of the program on the chosen educational focus, whether it is STEM fields, arts, social sciences, or any other area of interest.



Designing the Corporate Scholarship Program

In this stage you will determine your scholarship structure, draft your application requirements, and create a rubric for making quicker work of your selection process.

Determining scholarship structure

How much money are you giving away and how will you distribute the funds? You need to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Will this be a one-time scholarship or will there be multiple periods that you’ll run this program?
  • How will it be funded? (i.e. will you create an escrow fund to hold scholarship monies or will the funds be pulled from company budgets in a predetermined percentage/amount?)
  • Will your scholarships be funded all at once or will you drip out the awards over a number of weeks/months/semesters?
  • What happens if eligibility requirements are no longer met? Will you revoke future rewards from your recipient(s)?

This is far from an exhaustive list of questions to consider, but we hope it has you thinking about the types of things you need to consider when establishing your program.

Defining application requirements and selection process

After you’ve had significant conversations, it’s time to revisit the eligibility requirements and how you will select recipients. We find it’s helpful to create a scoring rubric and automated systems to eliminate ineligible candidates. The more you can filter out lesser qualifying applicants, the easier it will be to determine your final recipient(s).

Establishing a scholarship committee and/or partnership with educational institutions

While there is a significant chance you already have created a scholarship committee, it’s time to do so if you haven’t yet. Creating a scholarship committee composed of individuals who are knowledgeable in the field of education or relevant disciplines can provide expertise and valuable insights throughout the program's implementation. The committee can oversee the application review process, selection of recipients, and program management.

It’s also at this stage you need to determine if you will be handling everything in house or partnering with educational institutions in your area. Collaborating with schools, colleges, or universities can help identify eligible candidates, streamline the application process, and foster long-term relationships with educational institutions.


Funding and Resources

If you haven’t yet, it’s time to allocate a dedicated budget for your scholarship program.

This involves determining the amount of financial resources that will be allocated towards scholarships, taking into consideration factors such as the number of scholarships to be awarded, the duration of funding, and the scope of financial support (full or partial). By setting aside a specific budget, the program ensures the availability of funds to support deserving students and fulfill the program's objectives.

You may determine you need to seek additional funding through partnerships or fundraising efforts.

Partnerships can be established with other corporations, foundations, or nonprofit organizations that share a common interest in supporting education. Fundraising efforts can involve engaging with donors, alumni, employees, or the community to raise funds specifically for the scholarship program. These collaborative efforts and fundraising activities can expand the program's resources and provide opportunities to support more students.

This stage is also a good time to secure administrative and logistical support for program management.

Beyond financial resources, administrative and logistical support is vital for the smooth functioning of the scholarship program. This support includes establishing administrative procedures, such as managing applications, maintaining records, and tracking scholarship disbursements. It also involves logistical aspects, such as coordinating with educational institutions, arranging award ceremonies or events, and facilitating ongoing communication with recipients. By securing necessary administrative and logistical support, the program can ensure efficient management, timely communication, and a positive experience for scholarship recipients.

Promoting the Corporate Scholarship Program

Promoting a scholarship program is unfortunately not as simple as slapping an application on your website and sending it out to your email list. The goal is not simply to attract a wide pool of applicants, but to attract qualified applicants and raise awareness about the opportunities it provides.

Develop a marketing and communication strategy.

Creating a comprehensive marketing and communication strategy helps in effectively reaching the target audience. This includes defining key messages, identifying target demographics, and determining the most suitable channels for promotion. Developing engaging and compelling content that highlights the benefits of the scholarship program can attract potential applicants and stakeholders. The strategy should also consider the timeline for promotional activities to ensure timely and consistent communication.

Leverage corporate channels including websites, social media, newsletters.

Utilizing existing corporate channels is an effective way to reach a broader audience. Promoting the scholarship program on the company's website, social media platforms, and newsletters allows for direct communication with employees, customers, and other stakeholders. By featuring the scholarship program prominently and regularly updating these channels with relevant information, the program gains visibility and attracts potential applicants who are already engaged with the corporate brand.

Collaborate with educational institutions and community organizations.

Partnering with educational institutions and community organizations can significantly expand the reach of the scholarship program. Collaborating with schools, colleges, and universities allows for direct access to prospective students who meet the program's eligibility criteria. By establishing relationships with educational institutions, program coordinators can leverage their networks, guidance counselors, and alumni associations to promote the scholarship program. Engaging with community organizations that focus on education or social causes can also help in reaching underrepresented groups and increasing awareness of the program among those who may benefit the most.

The Application and Selection Process

This stage is where things get really exciting! Now it’s time to create a user-friendly application system and implement a fair and transparent selection process. Throughout the entire program it’s also crucial to ensure privacy and confidentiality of applicant information.

Creating your application is easy with a program like SmarterSelect. With our system you can start with a simple template and choose from a number of helpful multiple choice, fill in the blank and essay questions to flesh out the perfect application for your program. You can then add your branding and details to get your application online in as little as a day!

We recommend making it crystal clear what kind of candidates you are looking for, and we’ll help you come up with pre-qualification questions that will help filter out unqualified candidates quickly and easily, saving time for both you and your potential applicants.

Once you have created your application, then all that is left is to set up deadlines, and start promoting the corporate scholarship to potential candidates. After you get your applications in, you can begin the process of narrowing down your group to the most eligible people.

Then, it’s just a matter of working with your selection committee to pick the creme dela creme as they say.

Awarding and Supporting Scholars

Awarding scholars is the part your team has been working and planning for. In this stage you will:

    • Notify and celebrate your scholarship recipient(s): We’ve seen organizations make this as simple as sending out letters and as big and splashy as hosting a banquet in honor of the selected candidates. Anything goes with how you choose to inform your recipient(s).
    • Provide ongoing support and mentorship opportunities: No one says that giving the money away has to be the end of your relationship!
    • Monitor academic progress and evaluate program effectiveness: This is most critical if your scholarship was dependent on your recipients maintaining a certain GPA, meeting a number of community service hours, or some other eligibility requirements. Not only does it help you ensure the funds went to a good candidate, you can track how effective your scholarship program is.

Where Do You Go From Here?

The next steps are to evaluate how your scholarship program was run. You can do this by sending out surveys and asking for feedback from the community. After that, you can work on improving your scholarship program for future program periods.

Along the way, we recommend showcasing your recipients and sharing their progress. This is especially helpful if you have requested funding from the community. Spotlighting your recipients and tracking how they are doing is helpful for brand transparency and can give your brand’s reputation and healthy boost to boot!

We know we have covered a lot in this guide, but our hope is you see the potential for a fun and exciting corporate scholarship program for your own organization. Want to make it easy to manage and run it? Click here to get a free demo of SmarterSelect and see for yourself why so many people use our scholarship management software to run their corporate scholarships.



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