Does your tech company need to establish a STEM scholarship program?
A scholarship fund has numerous benefits for your organization and students in need. First, it’s tax-deductible, which allows your business to save money during tax time. Just be sure you’re eligible by following the IRS guidelines, requiring you to work with an organization to help award the scholarship. Furthermore, it shows that your company is forwarding social responsibility — which is excellent for your brand’s reputation and business growth.
Secondly, you’re helping students pay for educational expenses they otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford. The good news is that creating a STEM scholarship is easy when you work with a scholarship management organization. An organization makes the process less complicated and expensive than establishing one on your own.
Here are the steps you need to take to create a STEM scholarship today.
1. Determine Your Budget
Scholarship budgets don’t only involve handing out money to the students. You must also consider the costs of legal fees, website ownership and advertising. Some businesses will decide they want to hand out a $500 scholarship. However, you’ll have to work in the additional costs to ensure you’re within budget.
Remember, your STEM scholarship will have tax benefits. So that can help you reach your financial goals. When considering how much you want to contribute, consider how much you can offer annually.
Outside of what you can give personally, you can also set up a place where other people can donate funds to support your cause. Many tax-exempt organizations will allow you to start scholarships and collect contributions from others at no cost.
2. Decide Who You’d Like to Help
After you determine your budget, your next step is to figure out who you’d like to help. The best place to begin is to target a specific group of students you genuinely want to help. For example, Watermark has a scholarship program that supports women interested in STEM education and careers.
Another example is Lounge Lizard, a digital marketing agency offering $1,000 awards to students interested in web design. Whoever you decide to help, be sure you choose a group of students that resonates with you.
3. Establish STEM Scholarship Criteria
With a target group and budget in mind, you also need to think about the criteria for eligibility, application process and deadlines.
Will this be a one-time reward? Is the STEM scholarship for high school seniors? Or will college students studying STEM majors be eligible? Here’s what to consider including in your eligibility requirements:
- Education level
- Submission requirements
Part of these requirements should also include an essay or video. These will help you learn more about applicants during the selection process.
Once you’ve spelled out the specific criteria, you can establish a deadline for submitting applications. A general rule is to keep the scholarship open for three to six months. This timing ensures students have enough of it to apply while still making it competitive.
4. Start the Creation Process
Now you can begin creating your STEM scholarship. You have a few options when it comes to offering a STEM scholarship. Some businesses establish their own nonprofits. Others will work with a university or scholarship management service.
If you’re looking to go the least expensive route, your best bet is to work with a scholarship management service. These organizations help everyday businesses create scholarships and will take care of all of the logistics for you.
For instance, Bold.org is a nonprofit organization that helps you establish your STEM scholarship. The best part is it’s completely free, and you can avoid the administrative overhead of running the program. All you have to do is register your donor profile and submit your scholarship proposal. Then, you’ll speak with their philanthropy team to get answers about the process and their platform.
Other well-known scholarship management services include Going Merry, Tun, Scholarship America and others.
5. Promote Your STEM Scholarship
Once your STEM scholarship is up and running, you can start sharing it across social media and your business’s website. You can also utilize Bold.org’s database to promote your scholarship in front of millions of students — meaning you’ll have many applicants within the first week.
You can promote other ways by talking to people within your community and networking with local colleges and high schools. Allow your team to share it across their social media. That way, you can keep spreading the word and find people you think might be a good fit.
6. Select the Winners
Once the deadline passes, you can start reviewing applicants. Bold.org is helpful in this area because the team reviews the applications as you begin receiving them. Then, they’ll recommend the best candidates based on the qualities of the applications. So instead of spending time reviewing thousands of applicants, you can go over a few dozen to find the winner.
When choosing your finalists, be on the lookout for students that resonate with you. Listen to their stories and find someone you’d truly like to help. Once you’ve selected a winner, the scholarship management service will notify them and ensure they receive the funds. Additionally, you can connect with the winner to congratulate them. Then, you can look forward to setting up more scholarships in the future.
Start Creating Your STEM Scholarship Today
Starting a STEM scholarship is the most rewarding form of giving back to students interested in a STEM career. Plus, you have the resources at your fingertips with the technology available today. So it’s easier than ever to get started and help those in need.