The Scioto Foundation formed a department dedicated to the funding of higher education of local students in 2008 called University College Access Network (UCAN). UCAN was launched with the idea of helping students plan, prepare and pay for college.
The Scioto Foundation supplied the vision and initial funding, and the UCAN advisory committee composed of all 12 school districts, the South Central Ohio ESC and Shawnee State University led the work effort. The first five years of the group’s work efforts have been wrapped up, with the end of this academic year, and they look back at their major successes and future growth.
“We started UCAN as a combination of things,” Kim Cutlip, executive director of Scioto Foundation, said. “At the time of its creation, the board was looking for ways to create larger and more meaningful scholarship opportunities for students. The board and staff realized that, because we do scholarships, the cost of college tuition was just exploding and we wanted to help students financially.”
Cutlip said that when they were brainstorming for ideas, she caught a news interview on television about something called the Kalamazoo Promise, which was a very similar program based in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The first of its kind, the Kalamazoo Promise was touted as a venture in economic development based on the rationale that if more students received post-secondary education, this new, highly-educated community could spark renewed prosperity. After hearing of the Kalamazoo Promise, the board and staff of the Scioto Foundation worked to establish a promise of their own.
“Our promise, the University College Access Network, or UCAN, would not start off with a billion dollars in donations. It would begin small and grow over time through the work of a “network” of dedicated individuals sharing a common vision: that one day every student in Scioto County will have the resources to attend the college or University of his or her choice. We hoped that small starts would build success,” read a five year review published by UCAN and the Scioto Foundation.
With the past five years local schools have raised $532,814 for their respective scholarship endowment fund and the Scioto Foundation has matched that number by $515,716, for a combined amount of $1,018,157. 155 students have received UCAN scholarships in the amount of $115,092. $48,742 was awarded in AP mini-grants to schools for years one through five. 101 teachers took advantage of stipends totaling $62,580 to gain AP certification. The Scioto Foundation’s online scholarship database, www.ucanfindascholarship.org, has received over 5,000 hits. They have also held two separate UCAN College Nights that have drawn strong participation from students and families from the communi9ty who seek information about higher education.
Since its inception, Scioto Foundation has received $25.4 million in contributions and paid out $15.1 million in the form of grants and scholarships. Due to 40 years of smart investments, the assets have increased to $32 million.
The five year plan has now wrapped up and the project will enter into phase two, which is set for a three year plan.
“Everything, except for the match, will be the same in phase two,” Cutlip said. “We are still doing College Night, advance placement training for teachers, grants for offsetting the price of testing and all of those programs. The only thing changing will be the match we make, which will now be a two to one. So, for every $2 a school district brings, we will match with $1, up to $10,000 per district. In addition, the district that raises the most money will get an extra $5,000. The school district that has the highest percentage of payroll deduction, we will throw them a match of up to $2,500. Also, the school with the most registered students in advanced placement will receive $2,500. It’s is kind of exciting.”
UCAN has grown faster than the Scioto Foundation ever thought it would, with every school district on board. Cutlip said that she believes the UCAN campaign is off to an amazing start and that it is affecting the lives of many local students.
“When I think of the Scioto Foundation’s vision in establishing the UCAN Scholarship program, I am both amazed and grateful,” Patty Tennant, development director with Notre Dame Schools, said. “I am amazed at the wisdom and foresight in establishing this opportunity for the young people of Scioto County. I am grateful that so many students will be helped with their goal of attending college.”
Joseph Pratt can be reached at the Portsmouth Daily Times 740-353-3101, EXT 287, or by Twitter @JosephPratt03.