4 Steps to Setting up a Scholarship


Setting up a scholarship is an excellent choice for your business. Providing educational opportunities to your community is a rewarding experience that’s sure to come back tenfold.

Why Establish a Scholarship?

Perhaps you’re looking to provide a powerful incentive for current or prospective employees with kids approaching college age. You may want to recruit the recipients after they graduate, filling an important human resource need. Or you may be looking to improve your standing in a community. Setting up a scholarship also has excellent tax incentives that you should be sure to discuss with your accountant.

From human resources to public relations and philanthropy, there are a lot of reasons to establish a scholarship.

But how should you get started?

Establish a Need and Consider Your Competitors

You’ll likely have to convince someone in upper management to fund the scholarship project. Analyze the needs of your company (e.g. “We need more phlebotomists”) and look at what competing companies have set up. By making this scholarship fulfill a business need, you’ll go a long way toward getting it approved.

Establish Guidelines and Details

Scholarship set up involves many details. How many will you offer, and how much will they pay out? How will the funds be provided—a one-time award versus an annual endowment, for example? What requirements will you ask of applicants? Who will screen and manage the applicants, as there may be hundreds (or even thousands) of them? Who makes the final choice?

Writing out a scholarship proposal is a daunting task, but a necessary one for getting funds approved. Take a look at examples of other successful proposal letters. Be sure to personalize yours to match your audience and your company’s specific needs. Be sincere and optimistic, and remain a professional who seeks to fill the needs of the company or industry.

Get the Word Out

To expand your applicant pool as wide as possible, it’s necessary to announce your scholarship opportunity properly. If your scholarship is internal (and thus restricted to current employees and their families), email announcements, bulletin boards, and company newsletters should all be utilized. Encourage your administrative leaders to connect with their team members directly and make sure they’re aware of the opportunity.  

If the scholarship is available to the general public, social media is an excellent choice. Flyers posted at local high schools are another great outlet. Do a search for “best aerospace engineering scholarships,” for example, and see what results come up. You’ll likely find many websites for people interested in that field, and you can perhaps get yours posted alongside the others.

Manage the Applicants and Choose Your Winner(s)

Once the applications begin to flood in, you could quickly be buried. Consider setting up an online scholarship application that can easily be set up, managed, and streamlined. You can use this technology to establish what criteria are most important and which applicants should be filtered out. Ranking your top choices and choosing amongst them can be an anonymous process that eliminates bias or personal preference that could sneak its way in and ensures a fair decision is made.


It’s a potentially tedious task, but setting up a scholarship and choosing a recipient is one of the most rewarding projects you’ll ever work on. The futures of both your company and the next generation of scholars will infinitely improve.