Dollars for Scholars stronger than ever

Dollars for Scholars stronger than ever
THE KING AND QUEEN'S COURT — Brach Newmiller and Whitney Bliss were named King and Queen of the Junior Prom. They are joined from left to right by Brandon Philipps and Bethany Grubb, Paul O’Brien and Jenny Silvernale and Rhett Orcutt and Jayleen Harris. Photo courtesy of Kelly Martin
   This May the local Dollars for Scholars program will mark their 14th year of granting scholarships for deserving local students.
   While at 14 years, this is not yet a 25 or 50 year anniversary, for example, however, in these trying economic times of stimulus bailouts and bigger than big corporate bonuses, it is just short of amazing that this is one program that remains viable and strong.
   Between the Award’s Day at Conrad High School  and the summer round of scholarship giving to upper level students, CHS graduates will receive more than $51,000 in post academic awards.
   “Even in time of economic struggle, the fund managers with the local DFS organization are proud to see an increase in the amounts that will be awarded,” Dede Browns tells the I-O.
   She goes on to add, “It is continued support that CHS grads are depending upon.”
   This local success is at odds with the national averages of endowment assets for colleges’ and universities.
   Scholarship awards are issued based on interest and dividends off of endowment funds.
   For example, Montana State University’s Foundation saw the value of their endowment funds drop 2.7 percent from the previous year (2008 NACUBO Endowment Study).
   In a statement from an article viewed at Missoulian.com, Mick Hanson, the UofM’s financial aid director says, “High school seniors graduating next May will have a tougher time securing scholarships than in the past because of the uncertain economy.”
   He went on to add, “You couldn’t pick a worse time to graduate, and we hope we won’t have to reduce the number of scholarships very much.”
   The Missoulian report stated, ‘Of the UofM Foundation’s 535 endowed scholarships, 70 percent are in trouble.’
   At one point in UofM Foundation fiscal reporting, they showed a loss of 6.6 percent in their investment portfolio. That equates to a loss of $7.9 million!
   In a mid-March report from the Great Falls Tribune, the UofM Foundation has asked its 47 member staff to take unpaid furloughs. UofM Foundation staff will also see cutbacks in contributions to employee retirement plans.
   These reductions were necessary because of the economic condition and stock market declines.
   In comparison, Conrad Dollars for Scholars has zero paid employees to drain endowment fund dividends. Administrative expenses for 2008 totaled just $233.
   Conrad High School graduates who apply for a Dollars for Scholars award, along with DFS donors, can have confidence due to the fact that DFS investing is of a conservative policy. In short, Dollars for Scholars scholarship giving continues to grow.