MUSCATINE — Community stakeholders met Monday in Muscatine High School's Howe Commons to celebrate the new partnership between Muscatine Community School Foundation and the Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine.
Members of both foundation boards, donors of established scholarships, and faculty, staff and students of the district attended to learn about the recent administrative takeover.
"Today's event is to officially mark the partnership between the school foundation and the Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine," said Shelly Maharry, associate director of the Community Foundation. "The announcement is to really encourage donors who have funds established to ask questions and to begin having that conversation about increasing the scholarship opportunity to students in Muscatine."
Since August, the district's foundation has been transferring assets to the Community Foundation. In the future, the Community Foundation will hold all the 58 of the existing scholarship funds formerly associated with the Muscatine Community School Foundation. It will assume sole responsibility for its investment under the direction of the Community Foundation's investment committee.
"This partnership is really going to help our mission of making sure students have support for after high school training," said MCSD Superintendent Jerry Riibe. "That is really an investment in our community which is what the community foundation is all about. It's really a great way for all of us to work together so that Muscatine continues to be strong community."
Maharry explained that the foundation would be in charge of assisting scholarship recipients in how to claim their award. This would include verifying enrollment and credit hours, to include academic standing and degree specific coursework.
Though the administration of the scholarships will be taken over by the Community Foundation, the high school guidance department will continue to oversee the scholarship selection process.
Two weeks ago at the school board meeting, Maharry detailed the Community Foundation's plan to offer an online scholarship portal through CommunityForce, a cloud based scholarship and grant contractor. She hoped that come the beginning of 2018, students will be able to create accounts in the system and fill out a common application to apply to local scholarships. She explained that with access to the money simplified, hopefully, students will be able to access that scholarship money more easily.
According to Maharry, the money that funded the CommunityForce contract was paid for by a donor. She explained that the foundation upon realizing the need, reached out to donors that might be interested in the project.
"A benefit of our partnership is that one thing we do really well is that we have the ability to connect donors who care to causes they care about," Maharry said.
Executive Director of the Community Foundation Judi Holdorf explained that by extending their assets to education funding, the Community Foundation is diversifying the ways it is able to endow the community.
"We've been building assets and all of our assets are the assets of the community and this is an opportunity to go even farther," Holdorf said. "If we are securing futures, you have to consider the youth. Investing in scholarships is the a good investment in the youth."