Door County got a lot smarter this week.
On Tuesday, Oct. 14, a countywide collaborative effort known as the Door County Scholarship Network was unveiled at the Door County Community Foundation (DCCF) in Sturgeon Bay.
“I truly believe education is the key to enhancing the quality of life for all of us, thus the relevance of this project,” said Sue Todey, president of the Sevastopol School Board and chair of the Door County Strategic Scholarship Network Advisory Board.
Todey said it was almost two years ago when a group of county scholarship providers, educators and interested community members first got together to talk about setting up a one-stop shopping center for Door County students looking for scholarships to help advance their educational dreams. The result is DoorCountyScholarships.org, an online database that can be used by students of all ages, their parents, school guidance counselors and scholarship providers.
“No other community is doing anything quite like this,” Todey said, adding that the database already includes more than $650,000 in local and regional scholarships and tens of millions more in national scholarships.
“And we’re just getting started,” she said.
“We think we captured the vast majority of scholarships that are available,” said Bret Bicoy, president and CEO of the Door County Community Foundation.
However, he added that scholarship providers just have to fill in a scholarship listing form that can be downloaded from the website to be included in the listing. Potential scholarship providers can tap into the expertise of the DCCF in donating to an existing scholarship or setting up a new scholarship.
Another innovation of the program is the creation of a common application form that simplifies the application process for the student. Bicoy explained that not all scholarship providers accept the common form, but that’s because “No one’s come together and tried to create a common application,” he said.
Bicoy then demonstrated how the searchable database works for a student seeking scholarships that match their background and educational plans. The website was designed much like an online shopping experience, allowing scholarship searchers to fill a cart with potential scholarships before diving into particulars.
“It works first and best on mobile platforms, because that’s what kids today use,” Bicoy said.
While the program was developed for Door County students, Bicoy said it can stand as a model for others.
“We’re hoping other communities will learn from what we’re doing and create similar things in their own community,” he said.