A relationship-first organization, Concord Foundation goes far beyond a check to help advance high-potential students in challenging situations.
For high school students, scholarship opportunities are vast and varied. Some based on merit, others on need, but the common denominator is a nice check for those willing to complete an essay and a few forms.
With Concord Foundation, things are a little different. Of course, there’s a financial component – what kind of a scholarship would it be without one – but arguably more valuable is the emphasis on relationships. The donors and volunteers involved know exactly who their philanthropic efforts benefit and the recipients enjoy lasting connections that poise them for future success.
Hi Pete! How did the idea for Concord Foundation form?
We wanted to make the giving experience more direct and relational. Instead of asking individuals to donate time and money to a greater good without knowing exactly how those elements are applied, we created an opportunity for people to know exactly who they are supporting.
In providing opportunities such as meet-and-greets, one-on-one meetings, customized programming challenges, summer internships, blog writing and commentary, mentorships, and networking, we create a framework for lasting, accountability-based relationships.
Additionally, thanks to Concord’s generosity in monetarily backing organizational administrative costs, 100% of donations go directly towards fulfilling collegiate financial aid obligations.
We like to call it ‘closing the loop’ on philanthropic giving.
How do you select students to support?
Each spring, applications are accepted from high school seniors planning to attend college in the fall. Each application is accompanied by a personalized essay detailing what it would mean for them to attend college, how they have overcome challenges in their life, and why they would be a great candidate for a Concord Foundation scholarship. This is where our relationships begin with each student – we get to know a bit more about their backstory and what makes them tick.
Concord Foundation committee members review applications and welcome students to Concord’s office for in-person interviews where we get to shake hands (pre-COVID of course – thank goodness for technology and the opportunity to connect virtually!) and get to know them on a personal level.
After much deliberation, we select our scholarship recipients for the school year and schedule “Concord Foundation Day” – a meet-and-greet luncheon where students meet all of Concord’s employees, sign up for summer internship and mentorship opportunities, and learn more about what it means to be part of Concord Foundation from a relationship and accountability perspective.
Why is Concord Foundation unique compared to other nonprofit organizations?
I believe Concord Foundation is special because of our commitment to partnering with students financially and, more importantly, serving as a support system throughout their four years in college and beyond. Our support takes on many forms – mentoring, internships, academic accountability, networking, and so on. We make a personal investment in the lives of each student and supporters help guide students every step of the way.
You’ve mentioned accountability quite a bit. Can you share what that means for students?
Once students become members of the Concord Foundation family, they don’t just sit back and wait for their scholarship funds! There’s a lot more to it than that.
Each recipient signs a contract acknowledging they understand the requirements set forth by Concord Foundation’s Board of Directors. These requirements include consistently maintaining a 2.7 cumulative GPA, remaining full-time students, penning monthly blog-posts outlining collegiate successes and struggles, and connecting with Concord, to name a few.
Accountability is extended to Concord’s employees, as well. By electing to donate quarterly to individual student scholarship funds, read and comment on monthly blog posts, sign up for student mentorship, or help provide professional networking opportunities, a commitment is made to continuously support students.
The relationships created aren’t short-lived. There is beneficial longevity for all involved!
When you think about Concord Foundation, what puts a smile on your face?
I think of the growth and maturity our students display and marvel at the confidence they all gain through this experience. Some start out in the program as quiet and shy individuals and, after four short years, find their voice and a sense of security that evades many until their 30s…or maybe even 40s!
I certainly smile when I think of the students who are able to attend a school that once looked out of reach thanks to the financial assistance Concord Foundation provides.
What outcomes do you most desire for the students involved in Concord Foundation?
I hope they see Concord as a strong support system to help them navigate the challenges that accompany going to college. My biggest desire is that our recipients take full advantage of all that Concord Foundation has to offer – scholarships, internships, networking, support from Concord employees through blogging and mentorship, and access to resources after graduation.
What are your organization’s biggest accomplishment to date?
In my opinion, Concord Foundation’s biggest accomplishment is the steady growth of our delivery model. On a yearly basis, we assess how to improve the Foundation’s position and its core values to better serve our students and build even stronger relationships.
How can others get involved with Concord Foundation?
It’s all about relationships and how we can use our personal gifts to be a blessing to others. Investing in the lives of college students and sharing our experiences with them can challenge, inspire, and provide encouragement to help tackle fears and anxieties. It’s critical to building confidence.
There are so many ways to get involved. Our students need mentoring, networking, encouragement, and of course, financial support. The opportunities don’t end there – we remain nimble and always strive to evolve the Foundation based on individual needs of each scholarship recipient or supporter commitment levels.
About Concord Foundation
Concord Foundation is a nonprofit organization generated to provide college scholarships, mentorship, and career growth opportunities to college-bound students who have demonstrated a commitment to STEM-based academics, leadership development, and community service. The organization is dedicated to supporting and mentoring students in the local community who may not be able to attend the college of their choice due to life circumstances or current financial state. Established in 2003, Concord Foundation was founded by Jeff Northrup, Co-Founder & COO of Concord and Peter Haugen, Head Football Coach at Gustavus Adolphus University.
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