Kitsap County is full of amazing nonprofits that improve and enrich our community in a variety of ways. For this edition of our Community Spotlight series, we’re shining a light on the Kitsap Community Foundation (KCF) and its scholarship program. Kitsap Community Foundation strives to “connect people who care with causes that matter”, facilitating and supporting philanthropy throughout Kitsap and North Mason Counties.
Kitsap Community Foundation’s Scholarships
Individual donors, families, companies, and civic organizations establish KCF’s scholarships. The Foundation functions as the manager of the funds and the administrator for receiving applications, awarding scholarships, and managing the monies.
One of our Brokers, Karen Keefe, is a Scholarship Manager for KCF. Wearing multiple hats, Karen works as a KCF Administrator and Fund Manager. She also manages the administrative processes and markets scholarship information to the community and students. Additionally, Karen was a KCF Fund Advisor and Trustee for over 20 years. “Karen’s work supports the many named scholarships that the Kitsap Community Foundation administers on behalf of our donors,” says KCF’s President and CEO, Geoff Ball.
Our Q&A with Scholarship Manager Karen Keefe
We connected with Karen to learn more about her role and KCF’s scholarship program.
Can you describe the scholarships managed through KCF and what your job entails?
Currently, KCF manages fourteen scholarship funds. The scholarships are offered online at the Washington state-run website www.Washboard.org. In late winter and early spring, many eager students start sending in their applications. My job is to preview all applications for completeness and support the selection committees with the evaluation and award processes. Additionally, I am a fund manager of a scholarship program I have managed for 20 years created by an individual. Some donors manage KCF scholarships themselves and I can support them.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?
It is knowing that I am helping someone’s educational dreams come true. Getting a letter or note from one of our scholarship recipients about their new life story and how appreciative they are of our work is rewarding.
For over 20 years you were a Fund Advisor and Trustee working with students in need of scholarships. Is there a story that stands out?
There are many stories from many students. I am moved every time I read the students’ essays, which is just a snippet of their lives. I feel honored to be part of fulfilling their needs.
What drew you to this type of work?
Participating in civic organizations helps us create the communities we want to live in. Education is vitally important as a long-term investment in our community and for students who need financial support. These scholarships help them continue the education they might not otherwise receive.
I was honored to be selected to carry on the legacy of the family whose scholarship I manage. Then, three years ago when I was offered a position at KCF, I couldn’t pass it up. It gave me an opportunity to use my experience to administer thirteen other funds – which can be very challenging at times – but expands what can be accomplished. Plus, there is something very fun about working as a team with others that share that vision. It makes going to work a joy. The ultimate way to help others is to help students achieve their goals. It’s a lot like real estate for me…Helping other people with their dreams.
Kitsap Community Foundation’s Impact
Not only does the Foundation help local students achieve their educational goals, it also works hard to strengthen our community in many ways. Thanks to KCF’s donors/investors, “more than $6.5M in grants, contributions, and scholarships have been made through the Foundation since 1999.” Hundreds of local nonprofits benefit from the Foundation’s efforts. “Working with more than 350 nonprofits organizations of varying sizes, each spring we conduct the Kitsap Great Give, a day of giving,” says KCF’s President and CEO, Geoff Ball. This year alone, Kitsap Great Give raised $2,186,901.
Additionally, KCF builds grant-making endowments through its donor/investor program, teaches nonprofits, and works to address poverty. Kitsap Strong is another example of the Foundation’s impact. It’s a community initiative in which KCF, Kitsap Public Health District, United Way, and the Suquamish Tribe work together to “prevent and overcome childhood trauma”. They do so by “building a culture of empathy, equity, and connection”. Over 100 organizations are involved in Kitsap Strong and over 370,000 people have benefitted.
How You Can Get Involved
If you’d like to invest in our community through the Foundation, you can become a donor. KCF works directly with donors and professional advisors to create specific giving plans. It’s a tax-efficient way to directly make an impact and create a legacy of giving. You can view their donor services to see which option suits you.
If you work with or manage a local nonprofit, check out the nonprofit services KCF offers, including grants, nonprofit training, and the opportunity for your organization to participate in next year’s Kitsap Great Give.
The Foundation also relies on volunteers who help at fundraising events, serve on the Board of Directors, and evaluate grant proposals. KCF trains volunteer grant evaluators who offer perspectives on local needs and share their objective findings of how grant proposals fit with the Foundation’s funding objectives. If you’d like to become a grant evaluator, you can contact Funds & Grants Officer, Shaine Schramling at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-698-3622.