by Phil Hanson, President and CEO, Truman Heartland Community Foundation
For 40 years, Truman Heartland Community Foundation (THCF) has been assisting the generous people of Eastern Jackson County in enriching the lives of students throughout the region. A scholarship fund is a simple yet powerful way to celebrate someone special, honor the memory of a loved one, or participate in corporate giving. Nearly 200 donors have created scholarship funds at THCF, and thanks to their generosity, we have awarded more than $5.82 million in scholarships since 1982.
The average cost for one year of college in Missouri is somewhere upwards of $10,000. Add in room and board, books, and all the other things a young person needs to live on their own, and the cost of higher education can become an insurmountable barrier. With the cost of everything rising, from food and fuel to utilities and healthcare, more and more students are looking to their local Community Foundation for help.
Last year, Truman Heartland received 782 scholarship applications, which is a sizeable amount for the Scholarship Committee volunteers to wade through. This year, that number almost doubled to 1,402. More than 350 volunteers spent countless hours pouring over each application, scoring them based on criteria set forth by the donors. We are proud to announce that 279 local students received more than $696,000 in scholarships this year, a new record for the Foundation and a 32 percent increase over 2021. Whether students have their sights set on university, community college, or a certified trade school, their scholarship award will undoubtedly make a difference.
The types of scholarships THCF holds are as varied and diverse as the students who seek them out. Some are open to just about anyone seeking higher education, while others are based on financial need, specific areas of interest, fields of study, or geographic requirements. With a starting contribution of $25,000, donors can set their own scholarship criteria. The establishing gift is placed into an endowment and invested over time. The earnings from the fund are then used to award scholarships each year. This type of giving will impact generations of students and helps elevate the economic standing of entire families. It’s a powerful form of philanthropy.
In June, for the first time since the pandemic, students and scholarship fundholders were brought together for a very special celebration. At this event, unique to this Community Foundation, donors and students were invited to share a bowl of ice cream, meet each other, talk about goals, and share their dreams for the future. Nearly 200 students, their families, and donors attended. The determination and resolve of these young people give me hope for our community’s future.
A very special Thank You needs to go out to each of the 2022 THCF Scholarship Committee members for their steadfast dedication to area students throughout this rigorous process: Stan Salva - Chair, Linda Gerding, Dr. Tom Meyer, Dr. Jason Snodgrass, Christine Johnson, Cindy Miller, Marty Napier, Eddie Saffell, Jeff Smith, Dr. Ryan Crider, Chuck Mikulich, Dr. Robert Cordell, Damon Hodges, Trisha Drape, Todd Haynes, Dr. John Ruddy, John Ryan, Brian DeMoss, Linda Roberts, Janice Phelan, Amanda Robinson, Beth Savidge, Ginger Williams, and Dr. Mike Watkins.
Pictured left to right: Lee’s Summit West grad, Alivia Tolbert, recipient of the Hurt Scholarship, with Stacy Hurt. Sawyer Jackson with his scholarship donor Harvey House. Sarah Vaughan, Grain Valley student and winner of multiple awards, Claire Hawkins, with Jerry Vaughan, Grain Valley Education Foundation Executive Director.