We are passionate about the importance of character and about our scholarship.
Some of us joined the board of directors with an interest in expanding access to college. Others joined with an interest in recognizing character. All of us became captivated by the amazing stories of those who we award scholarships. These young men and women inspire us. They make us aware of what is possible. Take a look, you will be inspired too.
How the Scholarship Began
Mainely Character was conceived by Arnold Bushner, a local businessman, in the early 2000’s. His daughter’s high school featured a character based curriculum and he appreciated its importance and effectiveness. It also inspired him personally to be a better father and member of his community. As his daughter contemplated a post secondary education, he noticed that there were no scholarships available based on a student’s character. There were scholarships for academics, sports, music, the arts and financial need, but none solely based on character. He, along with two friends, Annalee Rosenblat and Judy Katze, decided to remedy that and first Mainely Character Scholarship was awarded in 2001.
Today we remain true to that vision. In choosing scholarship awardees we only consider elements of a student’s character: concern, courage, integrity and responsibility.
What We Believe
Of course, we believe in the importance of character; the need for character has never been more important.
We also believe in what we do, recognizing and rewarding those who demonstrate outstanding character. Perhaps we will have more people living lives of character if we show that it is important.
Yes, success in academics, sports, arts or music should be cherished. However, awardees of Mainely Character scholarships are achieving more than just personal success, they are making their communities better.
How We Select Awardees
Each year we receive over 200 applications and each is evaluated thoroughly and systematically.
The core of the application is each student’s personal story about their experiences with the four elements of character. Every application is read by a member of the board of trustees and rated using a set of standard criteria. Those rated highest by the individual reader are then read and scored by every member of the board. Candidates who are scored highest in the scoring by all trustees are reviewed and discussed in a special meeting. Next a board member interviews the references provided by the applicant to confirm the information in the application. After a meeting to discuss these interviews a group of finalists are selected. Finally, a group of finalists are selected for an in-person interview by a panel of board members. These panelists work to achieve consensus and recommend the awardees to the full board for approval.
This process is time consuming for board members. It is also exhilarating and disappointing. We are always incredibly proud of the students we award scholarships to but we also realize that there are other deserving students that we do not have the funds to award a scholarship to.
The number and amount of scholarships vary from year to year.
Several sponsors have made multi-year commitments to sponsor scholarships in amounts from $2500 to $5000. In addition, donations by the public and the board funds additional scholarships in amounts from $1000 to $2500.
In 2018 Mainely Character awarded six scholarships, but we could easily have awarded double this amount to deserving students.
To fully recognize scholarship awardees a member of the board of trustees travels to the student’s school to make the award in person at awards night or at graduation. The stories of our awardees are usually well known by other students and parents so the award becomes a community celebration of character. We know the message about the importance of character is nurtured by this effort. After we make an award at a school the number of applicants from that school increased.