Paula Fritz Eddy (copy)

EDDY

ST. MARYS — As of January 2022, the Elk County Community Foundation has launched its online application platform, streamlining the process for area students, school counselors and foundation staff members.

Executive Director Paula Fritz Eddy said this is a very notable transition, given the foundation has always operated on paper or used individual PDF forms for each scholarship since its establishment in the late 1990s.

The new Foundant Technologies platform will be used for the 2022 scholarship award cycle.

Students will create an online account and take an “eligibility quiz,” said Eddy, which will be extremely useful, since the foundation offers so many scholarships and students may get overwhelmed when deciding which ones to apply for. Based on the criteria, the quiz tells them which scholarships they are eligible for.

“This way, they aren’t sifting through ones they don’t qualify for,” said Eddy. “It saves them time, and us time as well.”

The foundation’s office, said Eddy, is filled with boxes of paper and applications that accumulated over the years. The online platform will be an adjustment, but one they anticipate being well worth it.

“Our scholarship program has grown extensively,” she said.

Serving two counties, Elk and McKean, the ECCF is up to offering 150 scholarships, said Eddy.

Which scholarship is right for each student depends on their background/interests, as well as eligibility. The more generic ones tend to be the most popular.

The other end of this, said Eddy, is that school counselors will now be able to upload references to the application.

“We have a variety of different ‘reviewers,’” she said, who will now have access to the platform.

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This transition has been on the radar for years, said Eddy, but was propelled forward during the pandemic. In spring of 2020, when schools closed, it was the week before ECCF applications were due.

“It forced us to explore this option,” said Eddy.

Eddy and ECCF Scholarship Manager Kris Kronenwetter started looking into the idea, consulting other community foundations that have also used Foundant Technologies.

The foundation also received a program grant from the Stackpole-Hall Foundation to assist with staffing during the new process, Eddy noted.

The online platform will also give students more independence and control over the application process, Eddy anticipates. The system will send out “reminders” via email for scholarship deadlines as well, and students can track the status of applications.

“In 2021, the ECCF awarded $249,000 in scholarships to 173 high school seniors and non-traditional students,” the news release says.

Besides offering a plethora of educational scholarships for students, the foundation also helps support donors and assist nonprofit organizations with work and projects.

“As the new year begins, we continue to encourage people to think about how they can give back, how they can leave a legacy,” said Eddy.

The foundation acts as a resource for donors, helping them decide which way to give back is right for them.

Visit www.elkcountyfoundation.org for more information or call 814-834-2125.

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