Ask a CCF Grantmaker: Kelly King Shares Insight on Education Grantmaking

October 24, 2018

Kelly King is CCF’s senior program officer who directs the Los Angeles Scholars Investment Fund— one of the largest scholarship providers in Los Angeles County. For three years, she has worked to not only improve the program but also to transform it, with innovative new approaches to reaching students in need. This includes working with over 40 nonprofit partners and recently, launching a new two-year, $2 million initiative to better help young men of color access and succeed in college. Continue reading to discover some of the insight Kelly has gained while working as a grantmaker in Los Angeles.

Question: What’s one important thing you look at when evaluating potential grantees?
Kelly: One thing I look for in a strong application is that the goals of the program match the outcomes that they are tracking to measure success. For example, if an organization says that their goal is to get more first-generation college students into STEM fields, I’m curious if they’re measuring how many of the students they serve end up choosing or enrolling in a STEM major in college.

Question: What advice do you have for an emerging nonprofit that is just starting the process of trying to qualify for grants?
Kelly: One thing I love asking an emerging nonprofit or really well-established one is, who are they partnering with? Where are they learning from? Because while every organization is unique and serving the community in a different way, there is great value in partnering and learning from their peers, their neighbors and so I always like knowing who else is in their network.

Question: As a scholarship administrator, you’ve gotten to know a lot of students. What’s the biggest misconception high-school seniors have about starting college?
Kelly: I think students assume that they should know what to do, when to do it and how to find resources, but they don’t and can’t possibly know everything. We know that this is the first time they’ve ever applied to college, so I would encourage them to find a teacher, a counselor or a nonprofit service provider because there’s no reason they should have to go it alone. There are professionals with the answers who are eager to help.

Question: What’s something you wish more high school and college counselors would tell their students about higher education funding and scholarships?
Kelly: At CCF, we are really fortunate to assist donors and other funders and companies to award private scholarships. For those, students might write a special essay for them or participate in a special program to qualify. But the majority of financial aid is going to come from government sources and from the colleges themselves. So the most important thing a student can do is fill out the FASFA or the California Dream Act; that’s your path to maximizing financial aid. It’s not writing 10,000 essays for 10,000 scholarship applications. It’s filling out the most basic forms and getting help when you need to fill those forms out.

Have a question for Kelly? Leave a comment here and listen to the rest of her responses by visiting CCF’s Instagram page at Instagram.com/calfund and select the “Ask CCF” story series.

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