How the Scholarships Work

Published June 1, 1999

Last year, when entrepreneur Ted Forstmann and investor John Walton formed the Children’s Scholarship Fund, they each offered to put up $50 million for private scholarships of between $600 and $1,600 for children in grades K-8 who qualified for the Federal Free or Reduced Price Lunch Program. The two then sought out philanthropists in cities across the country who would add to or match their $100 million donation.

In the end, Forstmann and Walton raised $160 million for four-year scholarships for 40,000 students, the largest private scholarship program ever.

Since the CSF program was announced to the public six months ago, a total of 1,237,360 applications were received from families with an average income of less than $22,000. The largest number of applicants–168,184–came from New York City, where almost one in three qualified students applied. Chicago ran second with 59,186 applicants. The highest percentage of eligible students–44 percent–applied in Baltimore, which had 46,011 applicants.

Applications came in by mail, e-mail, and fax. On the last day before the deadline, 50,000 applications were received by fax alone. A lottery was held on April 21 to award the 40,000 scholarships to disadvantaged children. The parents of scholarship recipients will choose the schools their children will attend, and CSF will pay the schools an average of $1,100. The parents themselves will pay an average of $1,000.