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HOW BOND SCHOLARSHIPS ARE AWARDED

The tax-exempt status of BOND depends on our being a non-profit organization. Legally, any money we raise other than that needed for organizational expenses is to be used for charitable contributions. It seemed natural, given our previous connection with the Brandeis University National Women’s Committee, to use our funds for academic scholarships in our community.

Giving away money, even for good causes, turns out to be harder than it seems. How do we know that the recipient is truly needy? How do we know that the money we donate is used for the right purposes? This is not a job for amateurs. In addition, to satisfy the IRS, we need to donate through legitimate 501C3 tax exempt organizations.

Four years ago two of us met with Leah Temkin, the social worker from the Jewish Family and Children’s Agency who administers their scholarship program. Most of their scholarship funds are endowments, which donate only the interest. We give funds directly, so they can be used immediately. Leah screens applicants, works out their needs, and figures out the most effective use of funds.

In June 2009 and June 2010, the scholarship committee met with Leah, who presented us with a list of suggested recipients. They ranged from young undergraduates at local colleges and universities, graduate and professional school students at local and national institutions, to older students changing careers or trying to get on track following job loss, divorce or other life-changing events. Most had some scholarship funding, part-time jobs or loans, and had very little family resources to help them. Most had outstanding academic records and records of service to the community. We were able to help every one of the students Leah recommended, which was surprising to her and very gratifying to us.

A few years ago, BOND started to work with a Jewish Family Service of St Paul program to help unemployed clients successfully enter the job market. One of the aids to employment is retraining, or completing training or certification for professional advancement. The JFS can give counsel and advice, but has no funds to directly help clients, many of whom are in dire financial need. Our scholarships can directly help these people become employable. One client needed one course to complete an accounting degree, another a Nursing Assistant class, another a fork lift operator’s certificate. JFS social worker Estrella Flores screens the clients, assesses their needs, and enables the transfer of funds. 

We can feel good that the funds we raise through the Book and Author events, study groups, card parties, book and short story programs, selling coupons and Dining Club, and more are put to good use. We do not know the names of the recipients, nor should we, although a number of the recipients have sent letters of thanks. In the future, we may branch out (in new directions!) to camperships and other community services.

BOND Scholarship Chair Judy Sherman wrote this article.