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Best Practice: Scholarship and Grants Committee – USTA/Middle States

Best Practice: Scholarship and Grants Committee – USTA/Middle States

Definition And Example:
The USTA/Middle States Scholarship and Grants Committee is charged to review policy and procedures regarding scholarship and grant requests for every program involved with community development.  Committee members work in partnership with the staff to award financial assistance to deserving programs and to monitor accountability of the recipient programs.

Significance:
Scholarship and grants is one of the stronger committees in Middle States, and it is one of the few committees in the section that can award funds without board approval.  On average we have received roughly 70 applications and dispersed nearly $60,000 in grants each of the last three years.

Benefits:
Members of this committee and the section staff are directly responsible for program growth in Middle States.

Procedure:
The committee has developed Program Grant Guidelines (attached) to address the types of support available, eligibility for awards and grant application requirements.  Section grants are available only to organizational members and range from $100 to $6,000 depending on the need and size of the program.  In addition, the largest single grant amount is limited to 10% of the total budget, and there is a three-year term limit for grant recipients.

The process begins with a community development staff meeting to review all of the grant applications.  At the meeting the staff discuss the applications at length and make a recommendation for funding to the committee. 

Second, the staff liaison sends the committee a three to four sentence summary of each application as well as the staff recommendation for funding.  Once the recommendations have been reviewed, the chair, vice chair, and staff liaison meet to review all the requests and come to a consensus concerning the recommendations.  The next step is a conference call with the full committee to discuss the applications and either approve or adjust the staff recommendations for funding.  There is usually a two-week time frame for the committee members to ask questions before the call takes place.

The full committee conference call takes about an hour and within the next week checks are sent to the district presidents.  It is the responsibility of each president to meet with the grant recipient and present the check.  Presenting the check in person is an important part of the process as it helps develop a relationship between the program director and the district leadership, and it gives the program leader an opportunity to earn more about the structure of the organization.

Please see the attached application and guidelines for more information.

People Involved:
The Scholarship and Grants Committee is composed of 11 individuals including the staff liaison.  Members of the committee include the Senior Vice President, Vice President of Community Development, Vice President of Junior Development and Competition, Vice President of Adult Activities, Vice President of Professional Activities, Treasurer, and Associate Executive Director.  Each of our six districts is represented with at least one member.  Their knowledge of community development programs in the district is crucial to the success of this committee. 

Timing:
Grants are awarded four times a year, and within 45 days of the quarterly deadlines.  The committee meets each quarter to review applications and award grants.  The opportunity to apply for a grant during any one of four grant cycles is very beneficial to programs as they are not restricted to a once-a-year grant timetable.  There is ongoing communication between staff and volunteers as needed.

Cost:
The only costs for this committee are the four conference calls for the entire group as well as quarterly lunch meetings between the chair, vice chair, and staff liaison.

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