Passion with a Purpose

By Trish Reimer

Many of us are familiar with the scholarship application process from the student perspective, but there is also a great deal happening in tandem with the student process.

There are other individuals who are preparing for this season – the scholarship selection committee members. These inconspicuous groups of individuals are the behind-the-scenes volunteers who have tremendous passion for helping students attain higher education and dedicate hours of their time to ensure that deserving recipients are selected. 

Lincoln Community Foundation manages 88 scholarship funds and oversees 55 review committees comprised of more than 250 individuals. These volunteers are an integral part of the scholarship selection process, assisting LCF with its responsibility of granting scholarships to more than 325 students each year.

The reviewers work diligently each spring to read through every application and evaluate them in accordance with the criteria of the scholarship. All reviewers take this responsibility very seriously and are dedicated to protecting the integrity of the selection process. 

While applications are being received, LCF is finalizing selection committee members so that reviews can begin promptly after the application deadline. Chairs of the committees confirm their committee rosters, new reviewers are recruited, and instructional documents are updated.

Early in the review period, training sessions are offered to help new reviewers become familiar with the scholarship software and returning reviewers are coached on changes. Reviewers learn how to evaluate applications and utilize a rubric in which different components of an application can be scored. Many tools are used to evaluate applications seeking to provide un-biased, robust assessments from several viewpoints.

Throughout the 5-week review period, correspondence occurs amongst reviewers seeking additional guidance or needing clarification about an application. It is a collaborative, team effort. On average, a first-time read of an application takes about 10 minutes and a reviewer will spend a total of 8-10 hours evaluating applications prior to the selection meeting. 

The next step in the process occurs in late April when committees convene to make selections. I cannot convey how impressed and appreciative I am when I witness the meticulous appraisals of applications and the passionate advocacy for the students. Coming to a consensus on the recipients is challenging but is always done with respect and polite debate. Members strive to maintain objectivity but also recognize they are tasked with making important decisions that can affect a young scholar.

The biggest frustration that is common among most committees is that there are simply too many deserving students and not enough scholarships to award. I find it a great honor to work with such dedicated people who demonstrate their sincere desire to help students. 

Serving on a scholarship selection committee is challenging but also very fulfilling. Although one may not receive great public recognition, there is a considerable amount of satisfaction knowing your work helped students move closer to attaining their educational goals. Most reviewers are pleased to return each year to commit to this work for which they have so much passion.

We are always looking for those who share this passion and have the desire to volunteer in this capacity. If this sounds like you, please contact me at You may also refer to this document that provides more specific information about our scholarship selection committees.