Students can raise money for their education through Village Scholarships

April 27, 2015

April Wefler
awefler@uccs.edu

It’s here: the dreaded tuition balance. Time to take out another loan.

Tuition can be frightening for many students. Those who can’t pay the fee out-of-pocket have to turn to student loans, racking up future debt they’ll have to pay back later.

Now, students are given the chance to fundraise for their education through the Village Scholarships.

“Our goal is to try to revolutionize the ancient, old, stagnant scholarship industry, where it takes several months, if not a whole year, to receive a scholarship,” said founder and junior communication major Antonio Adams.

Village Scholarships uses crowd funding, but on a more individual basis.

“It’s like Kickstarter meets Match.com,” said Adams.

Although the scholarship is targeted primarily at high school seniors, high school freshmen all the way up to students completing their last year of their Ph.D. can apply.

Students pre-register and are then tasked with certain activities, such as taking part in live content and interacting through social media.

Adams said an example of a similar activity is KFC’s Twitter scholarship contest.

KFC told high school seniors to submit how they embodied Colonel Sanders’commitment to education in 140 characters or less.

The winner received a $20,000 scholarship.

The Village Scholarships process consists of pre-registration, beta testing in August and an official launch in 2016.

During beta testing, users create their own profiles on the Village Scholarships website and start raising funds for their education.

If a student raises a certain amount of money for his or her education, then a donor could match the rest.

Adams said they want to host events to talk to local high schools. Additionally, there are plans for a student ambassador program.

“We want to develop one of the largest peer-to-peer scholarship providers in the world,” he said.

The idea for the Village Scholarships came after Adams lost both of his basketball scholarships, the first after a severe concussion and the second after fracturing his mouth.

Adams, who never before needed to worry about how he would pay for school, had incurred a high amount of debt from student loans.

“I was sitting at the bus stop one day, thinking to myself there has to be another alternative to pay for school than taking out loans and working a full-time job,” he said.

“That’s when the idea came to me to use tools that already exist, like crowd funding.”

Cofounder Tasha Adams, Adams’ twin sister, said she has been lucky to have a full-ride throughout her college career, but that she has seen her brother and many friends struggle with paying for school.

“I just kind of feel like it’s an issue that needs to be addressed,” she said.

Students from all over the nation have already pre-registered for the scholarship.

“We have students from places we didn’t expect,” Antonio said, mentioning Washington and Florida.

The scholarship is fiscally supported by local Colorado Springs nonprofit, Pikes Peak Community Foundation.

Adams said they are looking for people interested in donating or getting involved with the scholarship, as well as getting students excited about the program.

“Many college students don’t feel like they have the power to go out and change the world; they think they have to graduate, then change the world. They have the power today,” said Adams.

“[I would like] to have everybody act like you would in a village and try to support one another and help the students to get the education they need,” Tasha said.

Antonio said creating the scholarship has been difficult and time-consuming, but that he’s willing to make the sacrifice to help more students afford higher education.

“Students shouldn’t have to suffer. You shouldn’t have to be punished for trying to make something of yourself,” he said.

The scholarship is accepting applications until the launch. The first 500 people to pre-register will receive access to premium services, such as receiving advance notice of a scholarship or matching funds 24 hours before everyone else.

Students interested in applying or helping with the scholarship can go to www.villagescholarships.com.