First year of Scholarship Shawnee Mission brings in more than 18,000 individual offers for seniors

Ed Márquez with SM North senios Tijesu Ono and Jetzel Chavira at the foundation’s fall breakfast this year where the Scholarship Shawnee Mission program was unveiled.

The first year of the Shawnee Mission Education Foundation’s Scholarship Shawnee Mission program has come to a close — and the numbers are eye-popping.

The program, which seeks to proactively connect graduating seniors with scholarship offers from colleges and universities throughout the region, brought in a total of 18,247 offers for 1,233 seniors in the district. All told, the scholarship offers totaled more than $737 million in value.

Those figures were reason for celebration from Education Foundation Executive Director Kim Hinkle and program officer Ed Márquez this week as they presented an overview of year one to the board of education.

To be eligible for the program, students’ families must opt-in to allow the foundation to share their grades and test scores with the 27 participating colleges and universities. Hinkle and Márquez said they had been heartened by the high opt-in rates in the program’s inaugural year — but noted the opt in races varied from school to school. The figures below reflect the opt-in rates for each of the five traditional high schools for this year as reported to the board of education on Monday:

  • SM East: 86%
  • SM North: 77%
  • SM Northwest: 73%
  • SM South: 94%
  • SM West: 97%

Márquez also noted a disparity in opt-in rates by race. Asian, black and Hispanic students were much less likely to have opted-in to the program this year than white students. He said the goal was to increase participation among minority families.

“That’s ideally what we’re going for, that everyone has equal participation. It just tells me personally that I have more work to do,” Márquez said.

This year, a total of 85% of graduating seniors opted-in to the program. Of those who opted-in, 77% received at least one scholarship offer. But the norm was multiple scholarship offers for each student. Márquez presented figures showing that 44% of those students who got scholarships received between 19 and 27 offers.