Every year in the month of June, the Community Foundation hosts one of my favorite events of the year, our annual scholarship reception. Earlier this month on June 6, we had the pleasure of welcoming more than 160 attendees to our annual scholarship reception where more than $287,000 in scholarships was awarded to 218 students on behalf of our scholarship fund holders.

The annual event is an ice cream social and was held at Adams Pointe Conference Center in Blue Springs. This event gives scholarship fund holders the chance to meet face to face with the students they awarded scholarships to that year. It is an amazing display of generosity and gratitude that the Community Foundation is proud to be a part of.

We received a record number of scholarship applications this year leading up to the event. There were 860 applications for the 98 different scholarship funds that we administer. The review process is rigorous and takes the effort of some very dedicated committee members. Then 222 people in our community participated in the review process by serving on one of our scholarship committees.

We are very grateful for all the work of our scholarship committee and the leadership provided by Kirk Nooks, our board member who chaired this effort. Nooks, who was serving as president of MCC-Longview, recently relocated to Georgia to assume the role as president of Gordon State College. It’s a great opportunity for Nooks and his family but we will miss his leadership. He is an advocate for education and was a key player in ensuring the scholarship review process ran smoothly. Nooks finished his term with THCF by completing his final year as scholarship chair before his move. He was greatly missed at this year’s celebration, and we wish him all the best.

The best part of our celebration is the opportunity for our donors who fund scholarships to meet and get to know a little bit more about the students benefiting from their generosity. Some of our scholarships are renewable and the donors for those scholarships really get the chance to know their students and touch base with them at this annual event. This unique opportunity to make a connection with the students receiving scholarships is one of the reasons this event is so highly anticipated by both our donors and the students. It really is an inspiring and feel good event where everyone leaves excited about our future and the potential of a great group of student leaders.

As the need for scholarships in our area grows each year, the Community Foundation is continuing to have important discussions with people about the new tax laws and charitable giving. Many of the conversations we’re having are focused on using the required minimum distributions (RMDs) from an IRA to create a scholarship fund.

For people 70 1/2 or older who have RMDs from an IRA, the best way to support charities is by making a qualified charitable distribution (QCD) directly from your IRA to the charity of your choice. You can contribute up to $100,000 from your IRA, and if your spouse has a separate IRA they can also contribute up to $100,000. The QCD satisfies the required minimum distribution but does not show up on your tax return as income that can be taxed. Everyone with RMDs should be talking to their IRA custodian about how to make a QCD. The important thing is that the contribution must go directly from your IRA custodian to your charity of choice.

Utilizing a QCD to create a scholarship fund or add to your existing scholarship fund is a great way to enable more students like those we celebrated on June 6 to receive scholarships. If you are interested in learning more about scholarships at the Community Foundation we would be pleased to have a conversation with you.

– Phil Hanson is president and CEO of the Truman Heartland Community Foundation, based in Independence.