Plan today for tomorrow: 2018 scholarship applications online now

Hey, high school juniors. This is for you and your parents.

Yes, this school year is winding down. Yes, you’re eager for summer vacation to start. Yes, you’re eager, maybe a little apprehensive, about becoming seniors.

But if you’re a junior planning to attend college after graduation next year, the Community Foundation of Jackson County needs to share some information with you as you consider all of the steps that will take you to campus.

The good news for this spring’s juniors across the state is that Lilly Endowment recently renewed a program that offers a competitive full-tuition scholarship for Hoosier high school graduates attending any accredited public or private college or university in Indiana.

More good news comes in the fact that overall the foundation administers 52 scholarships.

And we encourage this year’s high school juniors — and their parents — to become familiar with the deadline and requirements for applying for those scholarships.

Like last year, the foundation’s common scholarship application must be completed and submitted by Aug. 17 this summer, just a matter of days after the start of their senior year. Applications are now available on the foundation’s website, cfjacksoncounty.org. No reason to wait.

Foundation Vice President Sue Smith, who shoulders much of the workload on our scholarship process, can answer questions about the application and the process. She urges juniors to consider contacting teachers today about letters of recommendation. They’re a requirement of the application process.

Gathering those letters of recommendations now rather than when school starts in early August would surely save some time and stress at the start of the school year.

The Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment created the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship Program in 1998 to help address Indiana ranking near the bottom of the 50 states in the percentage of its 25-year-old residents who hold a baccalaureate degree.

The program, which has helped more than 4,300 Indiana high school graduates, is designed to raise the level of educational attainment in Indiana and increase awareness of the potential of community foundations to improve the quality of life in our counties.

Increasing educational attainment among Jackson County residents is an important part of the foundation’s mission to help grow better tomorrows.

Concern about the education levels here was a key factor when the Foundation brought together other partners from the community such as the Greater Seymour Chamber of Commerce and the city of Seymour to build the Jackson County Learning Center, which now also benefits from the financial support of the Jackson County Board of Commissioners and the Jackson County Council.

The foundation’s efforts to improve educational opportunities extends beyond programs focused on college, including support of the Jackson County Education Coalition’s On My Way Pre-K pilot program for 4-year-olds and the encouragement of workforce development in partnership with Jackson County Industrial Development Corp. and others.

Some of that work includes the creation of Owl Manufacturing at Seymour High School, the iGrad mentoring program at Brownstown Central High School and pre-K programs at Crothersville and Medora elementary schools.

It may seem a little out of synch, working with high school juniors and counselors now about 2018 scholarships when we’re distributing this year’s scholarship awards, but it’s important that we make our juniors aware now of this important step that can help them and their parents finance their college educations.

Dan Davis is president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Jackson County, 107 Community Drive, Seymour, IN 47274. For information about donating to the foundation, call 812-523-4483 or send an email to president@cfjacksoncounty.org.