Hello, I’m Scott MacDonald of MacDonald Scholars. I worked my way through college with a variety of jobs including factory work and waiting tables. Even working summers and during school, I graduated from Indiana University with student loan debt. Eventually I repaid the loans and felt the relief of not having debt as I progressed through my early career.
Today, the expense of a university education is much higher and students do not earn sufficient money working to offset their university expenses. The levels of student debt are rising significantly, which limits graduates’ career and life decisions.
I felt an obligation to help others less fortunate than myself. This started early in my life when I tutored children as a teenager in one of Chicago’s poorest neighborhoods, and when I worked in social welfare during college. Existing funding for community service and social programs is largely inadequate. I believe we all have an obligation to “pay it forward” to the extent we are able.
The Goal Ahead
After a long and successful career and raising two sons — who are self-sufficient and of whom I am incredibly proud — I now have the time and resources to define and implement a program to pay university students to undertake significant community service projects.
Genesis and Opportunity
Both of my sons attended Davidson College, an excellent school near Charlotte, North Carolina. Working with Davidson development staff, we created the MacDonald Community Scholarship program, which has operated for several years. There are now several fully endowed scholarships at Davidson and the number increases each year.
Students are paid for undertaking significant service projects to help others in need. I am amazed at the resourcefulness and success of the programs. One student created and funded the only primary school in a village in Africa. Another student arranged for solar powered lights in rural villages in India, and a third student has raised considerable funds for cancer research by selling honey (Hives for Lives) in local grocery stores.
Using the successful Davidson experience as well as the experience of other financial aid and community service programs, the concept for MacDonald Scholars was developed. The opportunity is almost unlimited; if only 20 universities had 50 funded scholarships, 1,000 students would be working each day to help others and make the world a better place. What if every college and university started a program?
(MS PowerPoint file)