Fall Outreach and Support Strategies

KCPA Shares Practical Tips for States and Students

Fall Outreach and Support Strategies

Fall Outreach and Support Strategies

KCPA Shares Practical Tips for States and Students

While Kids’ Chance supports our scholarship recipients all year, early fall is a particularly demanding time for organizations as they finalize their lists of scholarship recipients and help shepherd students and parents through the financial aid process. 

We checked in with Varo Duffins, Kids’ Chance of Pennsylvania (KCPA) Board Member and Director of Financial Aid at Swarthmore College, and Kathy Del Pizzo, KCPA’s Program Administrator, to learn how states can best support students and families during this busy time and help recipients get the most out of their Kids’ Chance scholarship. 

Patience is Key 

With over twenty years of financial aid experience in higher education, Varo understands how tedious and overwhelming it can be for families and students to talk about money together and come up with sustainable solutions to ensure college is affordable. He said, “states should exude as much patience as possible” while helping Kids' Chance applicants and their families navigate the application process.  

Apply Early 

States should remind recipients that they often can apply for financial aid at their college or university for the next academic year as early as their fall semester. “This keeps scholarship recipients in good standing with their Kids’ Chance application,” said Varo, “as it demonstrates that they have financial need due to the cost of their institution, and that they are actively seeking financial aid support from the federal government, their college or university, and other organizations such as Kids’ Chance.”

Kids’ Chance Scholarships Help the Bottom Line

“While the amount of a Kids' Chance scholarship may vary, every dollar counts and helps,” said Varo. For scholarship recipients in Pennsylvania attending in-state universities, receiving a Kids’ Chance scholarship also automatically opens the door to a secondary funding opportunity through the PA Partnerships for Access to Higher Education (PATH) program. Kathy said, “This program matches our scholarship awards in grant money for our in-state recipients and further reduces their financial burden.”

Return to Sender

State organizations should submit their scholarship checks to and in the name of the intended institution’s business office or bursar's office, indicating the name of the scholarship recipient on the check. It should not be sent to the college or university’s financial aid office, nor should it be sent to the scholarship recipient directly. Varo said, “Sending the check or paying it to the student may oblige them to report it as income on their next financial aid application, which is not desirable.” Sending the check straight to the college or university avoids this issue and ensures the money is going to the right place.

Build a Supportive Community 

Lastly, both Varo and Kathy stress the importance of making recipients feel like they are not just getting a check, but also joining a community with a built-in support system and professional network. “The relationship between the scholar applicants and Kids’ Chance volunteers is the hallmark of this organization,” said Varo. Many scholarship recipients go on to form personal and professional connections with Kids’ Chance community members and frequently express to Varo “how important and unexpected having that kind of relationship with volunteers and board members has been.”

“By the time many of our scholarship recipients head back to school, they have had several conversations with their scholarship reviewer and with me, so they already understand this is not your typical scholarship arrangement,” Kathy said. And that support continues throughout the school year.

In fact, when students are preparing for their first round of midterms, Kathy and her fellow KCPA volunteers gather during Kids’ Chance Awareness Week and put together care packages to send with school supplies, study snacks, gift cards, shirts, tumblers, and a signed note of encouragement. “Every year we hear from the kids that this package makes their day and gives them an extra boost knowing they have so many people behind them!” said Kathy.

The financial aid and application process can feel confusing and isolating for families and students, but the dedicated professionals who lead our state organizations like Varo and Kathy help ease that stress and continue the mission of Kids’ Chance. As Kathy said, “We give kids the freedom to make their own path and impact on the world — where their parent's accident is just a chapter in their story, not the theme of it — and that is why I love being a part of this organization.”