The announced departure of Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara (SFSB) Executive Director Colette Hadley, with whom we have worked closely since our foundation’s launch in 2000, caused us to reflect on the way we – and others – have approached scholarships in recent years. We will certainly miss Colette; she is always professional, thorough, accountable to everything she commits to, and funny too. When you work that hard, a sense of humor can really save the day.
Colette and the Scholarship Foundation showed great receptivity and interest when we opened up the conversation about expanding their outreach strategy. We believed there was great potential to find students who may not have had college on their radar – those we deem “the unexpected student,” because they have never considered that college would be an option.
For foundations and individual donors, scholarship work can be perceived as “easy.” Anyone can give money to students to attend college. The difficulty is in finding students who would not otherwise be on a college-going path, and doing this in time to influence student choices. Together with the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara, we were able to design a strong outreach program to target under-represented students.
Outreach expansion began in North County, and resulted in some immediate successes. In the first year of expanded outreach, awards in Lompoc and Santa Maria increased from 408 to 803 students. SFSB’s outreach team has grown from one person serving the entire county to four full-time professionals. In total, this team now sees 35,000 students a year, up from 23,000 in 2010. They attend 1,397 outreach events a year, and provide a significant number of personal meetings with students and their families. By helping students learn how to find all sources of financial aid, their students have leveraged an additional $35M in support from other sources.
College and post-secondary education are exceptional paths to provide students with otherwise undreamt-of opportunity, and access through scholarships is paramount. The Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara is the largest community-based scholarship provider in the country, in part due to Colette’s tenacious leadership. In 2013, SFSB awards totaled $8.1 million to 2,600 Santa Barbara County students. During its lifetime, the Scholarship Foundation has made more than 34,500 awards totaling $80 million. The Orfalea Foundation has awarded over $14M in scholarship awards to various institutions, including $5M to the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara.
We are honored to have worked with Colette Hadley all these years, and wish her well in her future endeavors.