The Scholarship Foundation Receives YouthBridge Heritage Grant

While YouthBridge Community Foundation of Greater St. Louis partners with organizations in the region that serve youth of all ages, young children are the ones who typically tug at the heart strings and get most of the attention from the general public. Working with The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis, a 2023 recipient of a Heritage Grant, is one example of YouthBridge’s commitment to older youth. According to The Scholarship Foundation Executive Director, Faith Sandler, the agency has benefited from donor-designated gifts from YouthBridge fundholders over the years. Now as a Heritage Grant recipient, The Scholarship Foundation is honored to be “selected based on what [they] do rather than who [they] know.”

The mission of The Scholarship Foundation is multi-faceted but can be summarized as desiring to build a community where financial support for postsecondary education is available for those with potential, and where students have the information necessary to make sound financial decisions. The Scholarship Foundation’s mission is accomplished in several ways, including providing interest-free loans and outright grants to students; offering information and guidance to area students about the educational opportunities they want to pursue; conducting free public workshops where students and families can learn about financial aid and become familiar with basic principles of financial literacy; and advocating policy and systems changes that will increase college access and affordability.

In Faith’s words, “We fill the blind spot between high school and college for area youth who might otherwise fall through the cracks at age 18.” Interest-free loans and grants are a significant help, but only impact a limited number of young people. All students, regardless of need, can take advantage of The Scholarship Foundation’s financial workshops. As an unbiased provider of advice and counsel, the organization fills a need, with particularly high stakes for low-income, first-generation college bound students.

The timing of the YouthBridge Heritage Grant was perfect, Faith explained. She is thankful that YouthBridge practices responsive philanthropy by not restricting the way funds are used, and plans to use the grant for capacity building and strategic planning, which happen to be close to YouthBridge’s heart. The Scholarship Foundation has existed for 103 years and plans to serve youth for at least another 103. In the short-term, though, it will use the YouthBridge-sponsored Core Capacity Assessment Tool (CCAT) for strategic reorganization planning that minimizes unsettling change. A new Board President will take over this summer, and in the next three to five years Faith plans to retire as Executive Director. In addition to support for consultants and assessment tools, the grant will also fund board and staff training that reflects tenets of the new strategic plan.

Interestingly, Faith expressed almost as much enthusiasm for YouthBridge’s Heritage Grant process as she did for the actual award. “The process was interactive and informative; in fact, meeting with the YouthBridge Board was a joy,” she said. The Board was attentive to educational issues and racial inequities that exist, impressing Faith with the shared mission and values between the two organizations. She concluded by stating, “Even if The Foundation had not received the grant, we would still have been better off by the experience of applying!”

YouthBridge connects donors with community needs. If you are interested in learning more about how we can make charitable giving easier for you, please contact Michele Mosley.