Fun fact! Every Thursday, we process checks at the Community Foundation. Some are mundane and simply keep the lights on around here, but most of the checks that are cut each week are pretty exciting for the recipient. This is perhaps the most delightful step in the life cycle of every grant and scholarship for those programs and people we support. Who doesn’t like opening an envelope with some much-needed money enclosed?
On a typical Thursday, the stack of checks I sign might amount to a dozen or so. The large community grant cycle in the fall leads to around 50 checks during the first or second Thursday in January. During the holidays, some of our active donor advised funds create a nice, thick pile amounting to 60 or more.
But there is one Thursday each year that eclipses the rest with a stack of checks so high it can be measured in inches. I make sure to have a new pen, fill container of water, and turn on a podcast or playlist, because I know I’m going to be signing my name for quite a while.
That day was today. It is always toward the end of July that we process that majority of our scholarship payments. And I love it!
Each check is made payable to the institution where the recipient is studying and lists their name on the attached check stub. As I flip through the massive pile, I see the names of brand new winners, like Tallulah heading off to Yale in the fall to start her college career. Or, I am reminded of past winners now in their second, third, or fourth years like Kyle at Duke or Taylor at Stony Brook. They are scattered all over the country and Canada.
Some folks, like Rebecca who is studying at the Arnot Ogden School of Nursing, are much closer to home. These are the people we are lucky enough to bump into as they tend to drop off their tuition bills and report cards in person each semester.
No matter the size of the award or the distance between the school and my desk, I pause with each signature to reflect on the life impacted by this little piece of paper. College is expensive, and without scholarships, it would be out-of-reach for many of these students. This stack of checks represents a generation of teachers, engineers, and nurses preparing to care for our community. It’s likely that over the years, I’ve signed checks that helped a member of Congress that won’t be elected until 2042 or an award-winner filmmaker that hasn’t picked up a camera yet.
At the end of the day, these scholarship checks are incremental down payments on our collective future. I’m so grateful to be the one who gets to sign them.