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Every April, the Mitchell Institute Scholarship selection committee faces a perennial challenge: how to select one Mitchell Scholar from each of Maine’s public high schools when there is often more than one worthy applicant from the school.
“The quality of finalists is so impressive that the longstanding tradition of awarding one Scholarship per school has prompted us to ask ourselves, ‘How can we not leave more students behind?’” said Mitchell Institute President and CEO Jared Cash.
After careful consideration, the answer became clear: offer more scholarships, and offer them right away.
Thus, in 2023, the Mitchell Institute staff will be able to say yes to 20 more applicants statewide, bringing the total number of Mitchell Scholarships awarded to 166.
The expansion in 2023 is part of a plan to increase the number of scholarships the Mitchell Institute awards statewide over the next several years, said Cash.
“Our hope is to incrementally expand the number of students supported in the coming years,” he said. “Because of the strength of the outcomes we measure that are a direct result of the Scholarship and all of the wraparound supports we offer, as well as some recent fundraising successes, we recognized that now is the time to make this significantly increased investment in Maine’s young people.”
Making the increased investment will hinge on continued generosity from Mitchell Institute supporters. While the Mitchell Institute’s endowment can fund the expanded number of Scholarships awarded in the coming years, the resulting increase in critical wraparound supports needed to ensure the additional Scholars’ success — think MILE I and II programming as well as funding for Fellowships and SOS (Support Our Scholars) emergency grants — will require increased philanthropic investments from members of the Mitchell Institute community.
“From decades of research, we know that success requires more than just the money provided by a scholarship,” said Scholarship Director Kim Gustafson. “All of the supports that we offer Mitchell Scholars — while they are in college and beyond — are what set them up for success in life and set us apart from other scholarship organizations.”
Beyond the scholarship, the Mitchell Institute provides Mitchell Scholars with the opportunity to apply for fellowships of up to $1,500 for professional and personal development opportunities, such as unpaid or underpaid internships, career-related service projects, study-abroad experiences, and post-graduate and certification test preparation. The Mitchell Institute also provides Scholars with opportunities to apply for emergency funding for unexpected financial challenges, invitations to free leadership and career development events, and access to a network of nearly 3,000 Mitchell Scholar Alumni who are eager to offer advice, mentoring, and career connections.
“One of the hallmarks of the Mitchell Scholar experience is the ongoing personal support and mentoring that Scholars receive from both the staff and our Alumni network,” Cash said. “When you receive the Mitchell Scholarship, you immediately become part of a community that is rooting for you and ready to help you succeed.”
With the expanded number of scholarships, the Mitchell Institute will award a total of $1.66 million in scholarships and related support for the class of 2023 Mitchell Scholars.
“The selection committee and I look forward to reviewing this year’s applications and selecting the 166 recipients of this prestigious award in June 2023,” Cash said. “Knowing that we will be offering a life-changing experience to 20 more young people this year has us all very excited.”