As the Capital City welcomes the Miss Arkansas Scholarship Pageant to Robinson Center again this year, it’s the perfect opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of each contestant + what makes this scholarship program unique.
Last year, the Miss Arkansas Scholarship Foundation awarded more than $172,000 in scholarships to be applied at accredited institutions for higher education. Come join the FUN, June 9 – 17, and support these young woman and their pursuit of professional + civic excellence.
As the Miss Arkansas Scholarship Foundation Board of Directors Chairman, former Miss Arkansas Kristen Glover Belew (2011) shares insight + perspective about the Miss Arkansas Scholarship Foundation + legacy of the pageant:
Tell us a little bit about the Miss Arkansas Scholarship Foundation and its affiliation with the Miss Arkansas Pageant
The Miss Arkansas Scholarship Foundation is a volunteer-staffed, registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and the sole fundraising entity for the Miss Arkansas Pageant. For decades, the pageant has maintained a tradition of empowering young women to achieve their personal and professional goals while providing a forum in which to express their opinions, talents and intelligence. The foundation awards their efforts on and off the stage with scholarships to be applied at accredited institutions for higher education.
What is history + mission of the foundation?
The Miss Arkansas Pageant has been in existence since 1933 with the exception of a few years due to war. The pageant always operated as a business while raising their own scholarship prizes. Then, the Miss Arkansas Scholarship Foundation was formed as a separate fundraising entity and was granted 501(c)(3) exemption on December 30, 2008. Because the foundation is volunteer staffed, we are able to award 100% of donations to scholarships for outstanding young women in Arkansas.
Our mission has always been to empower young women to achieve their academic and professional goals. We have strict guidelines on how these scholarships are selected objectively and applied to an accredited university. For example, we mail a check directly to the Registrar’s office of each university to ensure all funds are properly used for academic tuition.
What is the primary source of revenue for the foundation?
In 2010, we awarded $76,000 in scholarships to young women. With the fundraising help of the Miss Arkansas Golf Classic Fundraiser and numerous private donations, we increased the total number of scholarships awarded to $183,300 in 2018. We expect to collect donations from approximately 140 individuals and business in 2018, of which more than 30 of those donors will give more than $2,000 annually. We also have an endowment that was opened in 2015 with the intention of developing longterm sustainability. We believe that the foundation has grown a base of wide, loyal support in only a few years since inception.
What makes the foundation unique?
Not only do we strive to award scholarships, but we hope to provide invaluable opportunities to young women. We started a project in 2017 known as the Marketplace Interviews where we invited local professionals to ask questions much like a job interview. After each interview, the professionals scored the contestants so that the top scoring young woman would receive a professional scholarship. For example, notable lawyers in Arkansas selected the young woman they believed showed the most aptitude within the field of law. The same was true for health professions, education, fine art, business, and mass communication. After all interviews in 2018, we awarded $18,000 based on professional aptitude. These winners will be announced at the Arrival Ceremony of the Miss Arkansas Pageant, which will take place at the Arkansas State Capital Building on Saturday, June 9. Following the announcement, they will each be interviewed on KATV Channel 7 while sharing their academic and professional goals!
What is something about the foundation that might surprise our readers?
We battle every year with the South Carolina Scholarship Foundation over who can award the most scholarship. In 2017, they awarded the state winner the same value of scholarship ($30,000), but Arkansas awarded more overall scholarship ($172,000)! We also won the onstage competition at the 2017 Miss America Pageant as Miss Arkansas Savvy Shields was named the winner while Miss South Carolina was named first-runner-up. Competition is a healthy motivator!
What do you believe is the greatest contribution that the foundation makes to The Natural State?
The caliber of young women that participate in the Miss Arkansas Organization is very impressive. In order to qualify for the state pageant, these young women must excel in a local competition where they compete in interview, talent, fitness, and public speaking. Each young woman must also choose a social issue or community service project close to her heart and dedicate a year of service to this platform. The skills developed in this program, along with scholarships for higher education, propels these young women into successful careers. We have countless graduates of the Miss Arkansas Organization that have become notable teachers, lawyers, pharmacists, artists, journalists, nonprofit leaders, businesswomen, physician assistants, and dedicated volunteers. To prove the strength of this program, we have 32 former Miss Arkansas titleholders that donate time and money to the foundation each year because their experience was impactful enough that it’s now important to give back. By giving to the Miss Arkansas Scholarship Foundation, you are ensuring the future of Arkansas by empowering the best and brightest among young women.