Creating an EPIC Scholarship

In a year when the theme is BE EPIC, should you consider creating an EPIC legacy for your DECA chapter or association?

What if you create a scholarship program that could eventually provide a large scholarship to a deserving member?

This task might seem daunting at first; however through my work with North Carolina DECA I have developed some key steps to launching, growing, and expanding a scholarship program.

Decide on the Goal

It is important to discuss what you want the scholarship to mean to your chapter or association. Decide on the application process, evaluation of candidates, and amount you hope to give the first year. You may also consider if the scholarship is meant to honor someone, a group of people, or should be named after your chapter or state.


If your chapter or state has reserves, this is one way to begin funding your scholarship. Set aside the money in a designated scholarship account. If you do or do not have reserves, it is now time to lay out a plan for raising additional funds.

The goal of funding a scholarship is to raise at least 25% more money than you need for the scholarship. For example, if you decided on a $1,000, one-time, scholarship you will need to raise $1,250. This will facilitate building additional reserves for funding larger scholarships down the road. 

Raising Money

There are three easy ways to raise money for your scholarship in the beginning. I have found all three implemented together are powerful to building your scholarship.

They are as follows:

  • Self-Fund – Have a portion of your chapter or association dues allocated specifically for the scholarship fund. If your chapter decides $5 of the annual dues are designated for scholarships and you have 50 members, you have already raised $250 of a $1,000 scholarship.
  • Fundraisers – In the beginning, these should look very much like other school fundraisers. Consider selling donuts, having a car wash, or having a fun run.
  • Donors – Reach out to local businesses, family, and alumni and tell them about the scholarship. You will be surprised by the support you will receive. It is important to maintain a list of former alumni and past donors to reach out to annually.

Growing to an Epic Scholarship

If you do an EPIC job of raising money, you will have a new and exciting problem! You will have much more money than you need for this year’s scholarship. Be careful! The first instinct is to give away more small scholarships. If you want to be EPIC you should retain these dollars in the scholarship fund. You will need these dollars to implement the growth component of the scholarship program.

If you have reached this step, congratulations! The next phase involves implementing new strategies. Feel free to reach out to me if you are just starting or at the growth phase looking to take it to the next level.

Giving is one of the most powerful things you can do with money.  Imagine if your chapter or association was able to provide a deserving student with a full college scholarship! That would truly #beDECAepic.

J.D. Gidley, CFP®, ChFC® is a former North Carolina DECA Vice President and President. He regularly volunteers his time to North Carolina DECA and can be reached at

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