Donate Today to Help Dorian Victims Across OBX

The Outer Banks Community Foundation is now gratefully accepting donations to support relief and recovery after Hurricane Dorian in both Dare County and Ocracoke.

All contributions are tax-deductible, and every penny of every gift will be used to directly assist local individuals and families.

Donations can be made securely online by clicking here, or can be mailed to the Outer Banks Community Foundation at 13 Skyline Road, Southern Shores, NC 27949. Please write “Disaster Relief” in the memo line of your check, and specify whether your gift should be designated for Dare County, Ocracoke, or both. (Disaster gifts without a specified geography will be split 50/50 toward both communities.)

Questions? Check out our Dorian FAQ Page, or contact us for more information.

 

The Outer Banks Community Foundation is a public charity that helps meet local needs across Dare County and the entire Outer Banks. The Community Foundations manages 175 charitable funds for individuals and agencies, awards charitable grants to local nonprofits, administers 50 scholarship programs, and provides tailored services to help donors pursue their charitable interests. Since its inception in 1982, the Community Foundation has awarded more than $9 million in grants and scholarships to local nonprofits and students.

The Community Foundation is Hiring!

UPDATE: Thank you for your interest in employment with the Outer Banks Community Foundation. At this time, all positions are full. We post all open positions on our website, so please check back here for future openings.

 

The Outer Banks Community Foundation is now accepting applications for a new, full-time position on our staff: Development and Communications Manager.

This permanent, full-time employee will help grow our foundation by supporting the development of new gifts and funds to our endowment. S/he will play a lead role in communicating our vision, services, and impact to existing and prospective donors, and in managing and creating all of our organization’s publications, with a special focus on donor audiences. This staffer will also help support our fundraising efforts in a facilitating role.

This is a new position within our organization! We are looking for applicants with exceptional writing skills, a high degree of professionalism, and sharp attention to detail. The ideal candidate is resourceful, creative, committed to excellence, and happy to self-teach on the job. Most of all, we’re looking for someone who is passionate about making a positive difference for the Outer Banks, someone who can communicate that passion, both verbally and in written format, someone who wants to empower others to contribute to good causes in our community.

Click here for the full position description. To apply, please email your résumé, cover letter, and at least one writing sample, all in PDF format, to LCosta@obcf.org. Applications received by August 31 will receive priority consideration. Please specify “Development and Communications Manager” in the subject line of your email. Your writing sample should be wholly written and edited by yourself. For more information, visit our website at www.obcf.org. Please, no phone calls.

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The Outer Banks Community Foundation is an equal opportunity employer. It is our policy to make all hiring and other employment decisions without regard to an individual’s sex, race, national origin, religion, pregnancy, marital status, sexual orientation, ethnicity, age, or physical or mental disability.

Costa Joins Board of NC Network of Grantmakers

The Executive Director of the Outer Banks Community Foundation has been elected to serve on the Board of the NC Network of Grantmakers.

Lorelei Costa, who has led the Community Foundation since 2012, will serve on the Network Board of Directors with 13 other philanthropic leaders from across North Carolina, representing a range of private, family, corporate, and community foundations.

“I am excited to join such a prestigious group,” said Costa. “This is an opportunity for our Community Foundation to learn from the most influential and impactful foundations working in our state. It’s my honor to ensure that a voice from Dare County and Northeastern North Carolina is heard in statewide philanthropic venues.”

Costa has 20 years’ experience in the charitable and philanthropic sectors, working and volunteering for such groups as the NC Coastal Land Trust, the Alaska Chamber Singers, the Alaska Women’s Giving Circle, the Triangle Land Conservancy, and the Southern Shores Volunteer Fire Department. She has a BA from UNC Chapel Hill and a certificate in nonprofit management from Duke University.

 

The NC Network of Grantmakers connects more than 115 foundations and corporate giving programs to a network of knowledge, resources, and sector colleagues that help them meet their mission and serve the community. The Network provides grantmakers the ability to come together, learn together, build relationships, and create a body of knowledge that enables them to conduct their work more effectively.

The Outer Banks Community Foundation is a public charity that connects people who care with causes that matter. The Community Foundation manages $18 million in 180 charitable funds for individuals and agencies, awards charitable grants to local nonprofits, administers 50 scholarship programs, and provides tailored services to help donors pursue their charitable interests. Since its inception in 1982, the Community Foundation has awarded more than $9 million in grants and scholarships to local nonprofits and students.

A Hard Worker with a Helping Hand: Introducing the Shearouse Scholarship

Story by Arabella Saunders

Master Chief of the U.S. Naval Submarine Service. Recipient of the Navy Achievement Medal. Head of the Dare County Fleet Maintenance Department. Boss of his own yard maintenance company. These are just a few of the titles Howell Revier Shearouse, Jr. held in his lifetime.

Put plain and simple: the man was a hard worker.

Born in 1939 in Savannah, Georgia, Shearouse graduated from Martha Berry High School in Rome, Georgia before enlisting in the Naval Submarine Service.

Joining the military was more than a career choice for Shearouse — it was a necessity.

“He lost his father at a young age and joined the Navy to help save the family farm,” Shearouse’s son Chip said. “He was sending money back to the farm to help take care of his mom and sisters.”

In addition to earning money, the Navy gave Shearouse something he would hold cherish for the rest of his life: an education.

“He got his degree on the submarines,” Chip said. “They had professors that traveled with them and taught them their classes. Education was just a really big deal to my dad. He said it was ‘something they couldn’t take away from him.’ ”

Throughout his time in the military, Shearouse lived in a handful of towns up and down the East Coast before settling in Kill Devil Hills in the mid-1980s. Once here, he worked for the Dare County Fleet Maintenance Department and started his own yard maintenance company.

“Even when he wasn’t working, my dad was always piddling with something,” Chip said. “When anybody’s vehicle broke or anything broke, he was the first person called. He would drop everything to go help anyone, my friends, his friends, anyone.”

When he wasn’t working or helping someone out, Shearouse enjoyed a variety of activities — sailing, gardening, playing music with friends, riding his motorcycle, and more. Chip said that although his mother convinced his father to move to the beach in the 80s, “it was the people and the water that kept him here.”

And just before his death in February 2016, Shearouse looked to the Outer Banks Community Foundation to establish a scholarship that would help the very community he had grown to love over the years.

In May 2019, the Howell Revier Shearouse, Jr. Scholarship was awarded for the first time to First Flight High School senior Hannah Ellington. To qualify for the $20,000 four-year scholarship, applicants had to demonstrate financial need, plan to attend a public college, university, or technical school in North Carolina, maintain a minimum 2.63 GPA, and either participate in volunteer work or hold a part-time job.

“Work was very, very important to my dad. He wouldn’t want anyone who was lazy to get the scholarship,” Chip said with a laugh. “He always made sure if I wanted something, I was working for it. He was good to all of us, but if we didn’t at least try, there was no helping us.”

Luckily, Ellington is no stranger to hard work.

The straight-A student graduated high school with a 4.38 GPA, all while balancing advanced classes, multiple extracurricular activities, and a part-time job as a hostess at Kill Devil Grill.

“Balancing all of my extracurriculars was a struggle at some points, but coming out on the other side and looking back on all that I have achieved, all the late nights, stress, and tears were worth it,” Ellington said.

One of her many extracurriculars was serving as the co-editor-in-chief of Nighthawk News Magazine, First Flight High School’s award-winning, student-run news magazine. In February, she was named an alternate for the 2019 Rachel Rivers-Coffey North Carolina High School Journalist of the Year, an awarded that included a $1,000 scholarship.

Ellington will attend North Carolina State University this fall and plans to major in zoology and minor in journalism. She will also be working throughout school, one of the requirements for the Shearouse scholarship.

“My dad would be really pleased that Hannah received his scholarship: there’s absolutely no doubt in my mind,” Chip said. “She’s awesome, and he’d be more than happy that she got it.”

 

Anyone who wishes to honor Howell Revier Shearouse, Jr. is invited to contribute to the Shearouse Scholarship Fund. Your gift to this permanent endowment will help hard-working students for generations to come. Go to www.obcf.org/donate, select “Other Fund,” and choose “Howell Revier Shearouse, Jr. Scholarship Fund” from the list of funds that appears. For more information on starting a scholarship of your own, click here.

Community Foundation Awards More Than $36,000 in Grants

From finding forever homes for senior pets to restoring history, thanks to the generosity of Outer Banks Community Foundation donors, a variety of local nonprofits are now prepared to augment their impact on the community. 

When Community Foundation board members met in early June, they awarded nearly $37,000 in Community Enrichment and Special Focus grants​ that will help hundreds across the Outer Banks. 

The Ocracoke Foundation earned a Community Enrichment Grant of $15,000 to restore the Will Willis Store & Fish House. Built in 1930, the fish house is the “last surviving example of NC maritime heritage,” according to Reid Thomas of the State Historic Preservation Office. The grant will fund exhibits in the newly restored building to showcase educational materials, artifacts, and archives.  

The Outer Banks Forum for the Lively Arts also earned a Community Enrichment Grant of $1,000 to provide Dare County students with a variety of cultural arts programs. 

The Coastal Humane Society earned a $910 Special Focus Grant that will provide 14 Dare County Volunteer Fire Departments with leading-edge equipment to resuscitate dogs and cats trapped in fires. Feline Hope and Hatteras Island Wildlife Rehabilitation each earned $1,000 grants to help with shelter repairs and to assist with owl rehabilitation, respectively. 

The Monarch Beach Club of Dare, an organization for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, earned a Special Focus Grant of $3,500 that will help provide the club with light-weight, moveable tables, chairs, and storage when it moves to a new location in 2020. The Monarch Lighthouse Club earned a $5,000 grant from the Community Foundation that will assist with the cost of transportation services to and from the program site each day for club participants in Currituck County.

Currituck County Schools earned a $5,000 Special Focus Grant to provide Exceptional Children’s staff with research-based training to uplift children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Dare County Schools also earned a $3,283 Special Focus Grant to provide communication systems like iPads and head mounts for students with cognitive disabilities. 

OBX ARF earned a $500 Special Focus Grant to help with their Silver Paws program, a project that pairs humans over the age of 50 with pets over the age of 5 years. The First Flight Society also earned a $500 grant to commission professional re-enactors portraying Orville and Wilbur Wright to visit Dare County Schools, in conjunction with the fourth grade study of NC history.

Several donor-advised funds also made grants in June, including the Just for Today and Tomorrow Fund, in memory of Dorman N. Doutt and Florence B. Satterwhite. Donor-advised funds are managed on behalf of individuals and families, who recommend the grants that are awarded. This month’s recipients included a host of organizations, including Elizabethan Gardens, the Salvation Army, the College of the Albemarle, the NC Lions VIP Fishing Tournament, and the Blue Star Mothers. 

The Community Foundation is now accepting applications for its next cycle of Community Enrichment Grants. Eligible projects must directly benefit all or a portion of the Community Foundation’s service area, which includes all of Dare County, and all Outer Banks communities, from Corolla to Ocracoke Island. Community Enrichment Grants support all charitable causes, including arts and culture, children/youth, disaster relief and prevention, education, the environment, historic interpretation and preservation, and other human services.

Prospective applicants are urged to review the grant guidelines online at www.obcf.org/grants, and then call the Community Foundation to discuss their ideas. The application deadline is Friday, July 26, 2019.

2019 Annual Report Cover

2018 Annual Report Released

Our 2018 Annual Report has hit the streets! Download your copy here.

Each year, across the pages of our Annual Report, we enumerate all of the gifts to and from the Community Foundation over the past year. But please don’t be fooled by the simple listing of names and dollars. Each one of these grants, scholarships, and donations represent a heart touched, a legacy left, an indelible mark made.

There’s the new scholarship in the name of a beloved teacher and coach at First Flight Middle School, who will always be remembered for living his life with courage and determination. There’s the grant from the late Pauline Wright to Special Olympics for new uniforms and equipment.

There’s a new fund to help local veterans, in memory of a brave soldier who made the ultimate sacrifice to our country. And there’s the musician on our cover, who, like 73 other art students before him, is going to college thanks to an amazing bequest from the late Dorothy Luedemann.

These stories are shared in brief in the 2018 Annual Report, and you can read even more on our website: www.obcf.org.

It’s been said that your legacy can be measured by how many hearts you touch. Probably most of us wonder, at some point, what kind of mark we will make upon this earth.

The Community Foundation is the local alliance of folk who make a mark on the Outer Banks, touch hearts, and leave a legacy of good.

The givers who work with the Outer Banks Community Foundation have different interests, different passions, and different stories. Some folks utilize us to support a specific charity, whether that be the school or church down the street, a beloved nonprofit, or a favorite park or historic site. Other folks use us for our scholarship expertise, creating a perpetual source of support benefiting generations of students on their journeys to college. Others just want to help the Outer Banks in general with a forever gift for the community.

It is our honor at the Outer Banks Community Foundation to connect all of these people who care with the causes that matter to them. We ensure that their legacies are honored, stewarded, and do the most good.

So what mark will you make? What hearts will you touch? We invite you to call us at 252-261-8839 to help you plan your legacy of giving.

Community Foundation Awards $192,000 in Scholarships

The Outer Banks Community Foundation awarded $192,000 in scholarships this spring, helping students from across the Outer Banks achieve their educational dreams.

30 graduating seniors from Cape Hatteras Secondary School, Manteo High School, Currituck County High School, Ocracoke School, and First Flight High School received scholarships for the 2019-2020 academic year. Of these students, ten received awards that are renewable for up to four years of college.

In addition to these awards, the Community Foundation has also renewed financial support to 19 current college students who earned multi-year scholarships.

The Community Foundation launched multiple new scholarship programs this year. In memory of local education advocate and the first female board member of the Community Foundation, the Josephine A. Oden Scholarship is a four-year, $20,000 award for students from Hatteras Island. The scholarship was awarded to Cape Hatteras Secondary School senior Nyah Machie.

“To me, receiving this award meant I was one step closer to taking my life to the next level by attending college,” Machie said. “I had gone through so many moments where I completely gave up on the idea of college because I never thought I would be able to afford it. Receiving this award was the extra kick I needed to remind myself that anything you put your mind to is possible, and to never, ever give up.”

The Howell Revier Shearouse, Jr. Scholarship is another four-year, $20,000 award for a student from Dare County who plans to attend a public college, university, or technical school in North Carolina, and who has a demonstrated work history while in high school. The scholarship was awarded to First Flight High School senior Hannah Ellington.

“This award means a lot to me because I’ve had a constant worry for years that I was not going to be able to pay for college, or that I was going to have to take out a lot of loans,” Ellington said. “Now I feel a lot less worried going into college.”

The Elizabeth and Wayne Evans Scholarship is a four-year, $10,000 award for nursing students from the Outer Banks with demonstrated financial need. The scholarship, inspired by the generosity Elizabeth Evans was shown as a young nursing student, was awarded to senior Josefine Harmon of Cape Hatteras Secondary School. Harmon also received the Mabel O. Cooper Scholarship and the Greg and Eden Honeycutt Scholarship.

The Milton A. Jewell Academic Scholarship, a four-year, $24,000 award, went to Isabel Estes of First Flight High School. First Flight High School senior Brianna Curi received the Jerry and Arlene Davis Scholarship, another four-year, $24,000 award. For a full list of scholarship recipients, please visit www.obcf.org/scholarships/recent-recipients.

Scholarship funds have been generously donated by individuals, families, businesses, nonprofits, civic groups, and government agencies to help local students pursue higher education. Any community member can establish a scholarship fund with the Community Foundation by calling Lorelei Costa at 252-261-8839, or donate to an existing fund online at www.obcf.org/donate.

 

Pictured Above: Jillian Webster (left) and Nyah Machie (right) receive the Inez Daniels Austin and Josephine A. Oden Scholarships, respectively, from Jeff Oden. Photograph by Biff Jennings, Shooters at the Beach.

So You Want to Start a Nonprofit

Note: This article first appeared in the May 8, 2019 edition of the Outer Banks Sentinel.

 

It’s probably the most common phone call I get. Some benevolent person discerns a need in our community, aspires to solve that community need, and wants some help with starting a new nonprofit to do so.

I love two-thirds of that phone call. It is inspiring to hear new ideas from impassioned, creative problem-solvers, people who choose to open their eyes to the needs of others, and devote their time to service.

But I get a bit woozy when the conversation turns to starting a new nonprofit.

Establishing a whole new tax-exempt charity is complicated, time-consuming, and expensive, and today it is rarely the most effective strategy for meeting a community need. In fact, sometimes new groups simply splinter our community and divert resources away from the original need.

Consider this: There are more than 200 registered, tax-exempt charities actively serving the Outer Banks. I know, because I keep a list.*

That’s a lot of nonprofits. In fact, in Dare County we have almost twice as many nonprofits per resident than the national average. In Ocracoke, it’s even more crowded; on that island, there are eight times as many nonprofits per resident than the national average.**

That’s good news! That means that Outer Bankers have a lot of different groups improving our quality of life, tackling a huge range of community issues. The fact that we are sustaining such a plethora is a wonderful testament to our community’s generosity.

Take, for example, the animal welfare sector, where we have no fewer than ten separate nonprofits helping dogs and cats. There’s the SPCA, Feline Fix, Feline Hope, Friends of Felines, Friends of Pooh, Coastal Humane Society, Dune Dawgs, Spay Neuter Today, Ocracats, and OBX-ARF. I might even be missing a few.

It’s great that our dogs and cats get so much love, but there’s a downside to so many nonprofits. Each of our 200 charities need money and volunteers to be successful—and there’s only so much our small community can give.

I worry that we are nearing the limit of our charitable carrying capacity.

The second most common phone call I get is from local philanthropists who are overwhelmed with requests for donations. Nonprofits are overwrought, too; another common phone call I get is from groups struggling to find good board members.

So when someone calls me with a dream of starting yet another new nonprofit, I advise caution.

There’s more to consider than just competition for resources. Nonprofits are also a lot of paperwork.

To start a 501c3 organization, you need to file your articles of incorporation with the NC Secretary of State, write your organizational bylaws, apply for a federal EIN, apply for tax-exempt status with the IRS through the Form 1023, file with the NC Department of Revenue for state tax exemption, and apply for the NC Charitable Solicitation License. To maintain your nonprofit, you must annually file a 990 with the IRS, renew your NC Charitable Solicitation License, and send tax receipts to your donors.***

That’s just a minimum. To attract significant donations or grants, potential funders will ask for professional financial statements (e.g., balance sheet, budget, revenue and expense statement), a strategic plan, evidence of strong policies and best practices (e.g., conflict of interest policies), program evaluation metrics, and maybe even an independent financial audit.

That’s a lot to do on your own, especially when there are 200 other groups in the Outer Banks already doing this.

There are strong, efficient alternatives to consider before starting a whole new nonprofit. Namely, if you see a community need, or have a great idea, my best advice is to contact—and volunteer for—an existing nonprofit that’s doing similar work. Get to know any nonprofit already in the field, and offer your energy. With your help, perhaps the existing charities can expand their services, and raise more money, to meet the need that you see.

I know that some folks who really want to start their own group may hesitate when I suggest a partnership instead. There are folks who really just want to establish and control their own organization. For many, founding a charity may be a lifelong ambition—which is an admirable aspiration, but is probably why we have so many independent groups in our small area.

For all the satisfaction of starting and controlling “your own” organization, a charity must be by and for the public. So before starting a nonprofit, consider whether another new entity will really generate a groundswell of interest, become sustainable, and add value to our larger community as a whole.

The Outer Banks is blessed to have so many charitable nonprofit organizations serving our community. Perhaps we can work together to build and strengthen the abundance of groups we already have to meet new needs and incorporate new ideas as they emerge.

 

 

* My list includes any 501c3 organization based in Dare County or Ocracoke, plus any regional, statewide, or national 501c3 group that has a chapter or significant program here (e.g., the Nature Conservancy, the YMCA). My list does not include churches.

** The national average is one tax-exempt charity per 320 people, according to blogger Andrew Littlefield, who used 2016 data from the IRS. In Dare County, we have one charity per 185 people (200 nonprofits and 36,501 residents, per the US Census).  In Ocracoke, it’s one charity per 40 people (10 nonprofits and 404 residents, per Data USA).

*** For more on these requirements, as well as other tips, see the NC Center for Nonprofit’s excellent guide on starting a 501(c)3.

Something Good from a Terrible Thing: The Sgt. Rimer Fund for Veterans

Story by Kip Tabb 

The Outer Banks Community Foundation has funds and endowments established for a wide range of purposes and reasons. But the Sgt. Joshua Rimer Memorial Fund for Veterans is unlike any other fund the Community Foundation administers.

Betty Evans lives in Corolla now with her husband, Wayne, but ten years ago she was working at a Pittsburgh area hospital with fellow nurse Donna Rimer.

The women specialized in different areas of care, so they didn’t work together very often, but they had gotten to know each other.

“She was just a nice person,” Betty said.

Betty also knew that Donna’s son, Joshua Rimer, was a Sergeant in the U.S. Army, and had served in Iraq. She had a chance to meet Josh once, and the memory has remained with her.

“When he came home from one tour, I saw them at the mall, and I said, ‘Oh, it seems so good to see your mother smiling again.’ She was beaming, and he was beaming, and he seemed like such a nice kid,” she recalled.

Then word came that Sgt. Rimer lost his life in Afghanistan. He had been on patrol, escorting a convoy, when a roadside bomb hit his armored car. The date was July 22, 2009. Josh was 24 years old.

The death of Sgt. Rimer was deeply personal to Betty and is an important part of why she and Wayne feel so strongly about helping veterans today. As she starts to talk about that time 10 years ago, she stops herself, saying: “I’ll cry.”

When she continues, there is a catch in her voice, “I just appreciate them (veterans) and admire them,” she said.

Betty was not alone in believing there was something special about Joshua, something that seemed to draw people to him. When word came that he had died, his Pennsylvania community responded.

Wayne described how many people came out to celebrate Sgt. Rimer’s life and to mourn his loss with his family. So many people came to support the family, he said, “They had to use the high school for his service.”

“He was a very good guy,” Joshua’s mother said, describing her son.

Tributes to Sgt. Rimer describe his devotion to his new wife, Annalisa, how he read to her every night and took care of her when she was sick, how he would drive his mother-in-law to and from work when it snowed. “He was a leader and protector of his guys,” his mother, Donna, added. “He stood up for others. That was the side that he fought with. There were things he had to do that bothered him, but he took it to heart.”

Over the years Donna has worked to keep her son’s legacy of protecting and caring for others alive. She and her family have worked with Yellow Ribbon, sending packages and supplies to soldiers in foreign lands.

“We’ve sent packages to 10 or 12 countries,” she said.

They have also raised over $20,000 for the Battle Buddy Organization, which provides service animals to veterans who are disabled or suffering from post-traumatic stress.

Although she has been actively working to help veterans, Donna was caught off guard when Betty told her that she and Wayne wanted to establish an endowment in the Outer Banks to help veterans, and name it for her son.

“It almost took my breath away,” Donna said. “It was just a very amazing thing.”

Community Foundation board member and Navy veteran Clark Twiddy agreed.

“This gives us a special opportunity to help our veterans,” he said.

The needs of the veteran community are diverse, Clark noted. Understanding those needs is an important part of getting them help, something he describes as educating ourselves.

“The problem is that for many vets, their diagnosis is often not physically apparent. It’s not visually apparent.”

And asking for help is not automatic for many veterans.

“They are the last people to ask for help. They have dedicated their lives to serving others first. They don’t want to be a burden to their family and spouses,” Clark said.

Other than helping local veterans and their families, there are no specific guidelines for the new endowment, but for Wayne and Betty, the idea of the Sgt. Joshua Rimer Memorial Fund for Veterans seemed a natural outgrowth of their philosophy of giving.

“Every year we do a big project. We sat and talked about it…and she wanted to do something for the veterans, and Joshua’s name came up,” Wayne said. “We thought it would be nice to put it in honor of somebody.”

“We were going to do it anyway. We didn’t want to name it after us,” Betty explained. “I just loved this kid for some reason. And he (Wayne) said would it be a good idea to put it in his name to honor him. He gave his life for this country. We asked his mom and asked if she would be ok with this, and she said, ‘Oh, yeah.’”

“I think you have to change how things were so terrible into things for good,” Donna said.

 

The Sgt. Joshua Rimer Memorial Fund for Veterans is a new, designated endowment at the Outer Banks Community Foundation that will benefit local veterans and their families. Established by Wayne and Betty Evans of Corolla, NC, the endowment is in honor of a decorated American soldier who lost his life in Afghanistan 10 years ago. Sgt. Rimer, the son of Donna and James Rimer, received a Purple Heart, Bronze Star, and Medal of Valor over the course of his service.

Anyone who wishes to honor Sgt. Joshua Rimer — or any another veteran — is invited to contribute to the Sgt. Joshua Rimer Memorial Fund for Veterans. Your gift to this permanent endowment will help local veterans and their families for generations to come. If you choose to honor a veteran with your gift, the Community Foundation is delighted to send notice to your honoree (or his/her family). Go to www.obcf.org/donate, select “Other Fund,” and choose “Sgt. Joshua Rimer Memorial Fund for Veterans” from the list of funds that appears.

Don’t Let Your Local Scholarship Disappear

Note: A shorter version of this article first appeared in the March 27, 2019 edition of the Outer Banks Sentinel.

When Julie was a senior at First Flight High School, she was ready for college. Ranked near the top of her class, Julie had spent her high school career building her résumé. Julie had it all: great grades, varsity athletics, school clubs, good SAT scores.

Julie was admitted into a prestigious university, and was promised financial aid, including some federal loans, and a merit-based scholarship from her school. But her financial aid package didn’t cover everything, so Julie dedicated herself to applying for a dozen or more local scholarships. And it seemed to pay off: Julie won a $2,000 scholarship from an organization here in Dare County.

Now, imagine Julie’s shock when she watched her local scholarship virtually disappear. Upon receiving Julie’s $2,000 award, rather than reducing her tuition bill or her student loan debt, Julie’s university instead subtracted the $2,000 from her college scholarship, deciding, I suppose, that she no longer needed that money. To Julie, it’s as if she received no benefit at all from the local scholarship she had earned.

I wish I could tell you that Julie is entirely fictional, or that this student’s experience was a rare aberration or an honest mistake. But Julie is based on a real student from Dare County, and this insidious practice happens all the time. In fact, it is so common that it has a name: scholarship displacement.

Let’s say a student is promised financial assistance from a college, then receives a private scholarship from some entity outside the college. Scholarship displacement is when the college reduces that student’s financial assistance by the amount of that new scholarship, rather than adding the scholarship to the student’s aid package.

Infuriating, right? To be clear, this doesn’t always happen, and it never has to happen. When a student receives a local scholarship, colleges have a lot of discretion in how they handle that outside money. This is true even when the student is receiving federal, need-based financial aid.

Ideally, a college will accept a local scholarship and use it to reduce the student’s loans, or the student’s so-called “unmet need” (which s/he must pay out of pocket), and many colleges do just that.

But other colleges — unless instructed otherwise — will instead take that local scholarship and reduce their own awards commensurately. Just how many schools do it? One in five, according to the National Scholarship Providers Association, based on a 2011 survey of 100 four-year schools.

How is this justified? Well, if Julie receives $2,000 in private money, the argument goes, Julie’s financial need is now $2,000 less. University officials might tell you that scholarship displacement allows them to re-distribute financial aid more fairly to students with greater need.

The problem is, Julie’s scholarship was earned by her, based on her diligence and her credentials. Our community gave away $500,000 in scholarships to Dare County seniors last year; those hard-earned funds were intended to help Dare County students. To me, it is a violation of the donor’s gift for a university to unilaterally use that money for another purpose. To students like Julie, it is unfair for a university to reduce a scholarship that was already promised to them.

As the largest scholarship provider in Dare County, the Outer Banks Community Foundation has been fighting displacement for years — I believe with great success. After working with hundreds of students, tracking their scholarships, reading the research, and speaking with dozens of public and private schools from across the state, my colleagues and I have learned a few strategies.

Here are our recommendations for both students and local scholarship providers to ensure that your money is not displaced.

Students: First and foremost, please don’t let potential displacement dissuade you from applying for local scholarships, because you absolutely can take steps to prevent scholarship displacement. It just takes a little self-advocacy.

If you receive financial aid from your college, study and save your financial aid award letter. These letters are often very confusing, so call your financial aid officer, and ask him or her to explain each component of your aid package to you. Learn which funds are loans that you must eventually pay back, and which funds are grants or scholarships that you do not pay back. Of those scholarships, ask which ones are based on need, which ones are based on merit, and which ones are guaranteed across all semesters.

Then, if you receive any local scholarships, from the Community Foundation or anyone else, you should receive another, modified financial aid statement, or just a final bill. Compare that new information to your original award letter, and make sure that your local scholarship dollars are not used to reduce any grants or scholarships from your original aid package. Those local dollars should only be reducing your loans, work study, or any unmet need.

If your school tries to reduce your scholarships or grants because of a local award, call your financial aid office and politely ask them to fix it. For example, see if your college will defer or spread out your local scholarships to future several semesters or years, or see if they’ll let you use your local scholarship to pay for a computer, books, supplies, transportation costs, or housing.

Scholarship Providers: There are several written conditions you should send to your students’ schools along with your scholarship checks to ensure that your funds benefit your recipients. For example, you should explicitly instruct the schools to use your funds only to reduce your students’ loans, work study, or unmet need — or else return the money to you if that is not possible. For a sample letter, please click here.

Even if your student has an “overaward” in his or her first year, it’s possible that s/he will need it the next year when other scholarships expire, so please consider holding your money for him or her, and resending it to his/her college in a year.

By the way, scholarship providers, you may be wondering whether you can bypass displacement by simply sending the scholarship money directly to your students instead of to their schools. Unfortunately, that strategy won’t help matters, because students are still required to report all of their outside scholarships to their universities, even if they receive the money directly. Also, by sending your money to the students’ schools, you are more likely to get the money back if the student leaves school for any reason. Finally, by sending the scholarship to the school, it becomes the university’s responsibility to complete any 1099 forms as needed if the student needs to report the scholarship as taxable income.

A new law in Maryland bans public colleges from reducing their financial support when a student receives a private scholarship. Perhaps North Carolina will follow suit. We know that a college education can change a person’s life, and local scholarships can make that possible. With the cost of college rising each year, let’s make sure our students reap every penny they earn.