Tijesu Ono and Jetzel Chavira haven’t even applied to college yet. But, as they found out in front of a crowd of more than 1,000 people this morning, they’ve already been offered nearly $1.6 million combined in college scholarships.
Ono and Chavira were brought up on stage at the end of this morning’s annual Shawnee Mission Education Foundation breakfast to highlight the foundation’s new Scholarship Shawnee Mission program.
Piloted starting this fall, Scholarship Shawnee Mission is intended to connect Shawnee Mission students to scholarship opportunities at more than 25 colleges and universities, many of which are in the greater Kansas City metro area. Through the program, the foundation shares information about students’ test scores and grades with higher ed institutions, which proactively present students with offers for scholarships.
Both Chavira, a SM West senior whose scholarship offers from several schools totaled a combined $710,430, and Ono, a SM North senior whose offers totaled $886,250, had looks of shock and delight on their faces when the foundation shared the news.
“I am so excited for you guys,” said Kimberly Hinkle, executive director of the foundation, to the two seniors. “You need to understand how much we believe in you and how much these colleges and universities want you.”
But the program’s offerings go far beyond the two students brought up on stage. As of this week, Shawnee Mission seniors have been offered $581,459,870 in college scholarships — although that number is still expected to grow. Hinkle noted that the foundation will visit each high school next month to tell more than 1,000 seniors about their scholarship offers.
“The Shawnee Mission Education Foundation could not be more proud to have launched this new scholarship initiative that has colleges competing for Shawnee Mission students,” Hinkle said. “The number of scholarship dollars our seniors will see will open up opportunities that many of them would never dream of.”
The foundation has brought on a new staff member tasked with running the Scholarship Shawnee Mission program. Ed Márquez, the new program officer at the foundation, did similar work in Kansas City, Kan.
“It occurred to me awhile back that bright and hardworking students should be recruited by colleges in the same way that colleges recruit student-athletes,” said Márquez. “We believe colleges should be competing for our students, and not the other way around. It eliminates barriers in the college admission process. It opens up possibilities some students would never have dreamed of.”
The foundation’s announcement of Scholarship Shawnee Mission was part of the foundation’s special programming to honor the 50th anniversary of the Shawnee Mission School District’s inception. About 1,100 community members and at least 400 students attended the breakfast at the Overland Park Convention Center. Hinkle called it a “sell-out crowd.”
All high school seniors are eligible to participate, and there is no application process. When parents opt in to the program, their student’s data is shared with numerous colleges and universities. These schools make scholarship offers to students matching their criteria.
The foundation will continue recruiting higher education institutes to participate in Scholarship Shawnee Mission, here is a list of colleges and universities participating in Scholarship Shawnee Mission:
- Avila University
- Baker University
- Coe College
- Columbia College-Columbia, MO.
- Donnelly College
- Drake University
- Emporia State University
- Johnson County Community College
- Kansas State University
- MidAmerica Nazarene University
- Missouri State University
- Newman University
- Northwest Missouri State University
- Ottawa University
- Rockhurst University
- Saint Louis University
- University of Arkansas
- University of Central Missouri
- University of Kansas
- University of Missouri-Columbia (MU)
- University of Missouri – Kansas City (UMKC)
- University of Northern Iowa
- University of Oklahoma
- University of Saint Mary
- Washburn University
- Wichita State University
- William Jewell College