Bright Star Scholarship Program Overview
The Bright Stars Scholarship Program was created in 2018 by the John and Deborah Gillis Foundation. The foundation exists to provide multiple educational opportunities to amplify, strengthen and empower Hopkins County students so they will be college and career ready in order to be highly competitive in a global society.
Foundation’s Scholarship Goal
- Provide ten (10) annual education scholarships to eligible graduating seniors who would benefit from financial support and that are renewable for up to eight consecutive semesters
In May of 2019 the John and Deborah Gillis Foundation will began awarding ten (10) annual Bright Stars Scholarships in the amount of $4000 a semester for up to 8 semesters to graduating Hopkins County seniors who meet criteria established by the foundation’s Board of Directors. In November of 2021, this amount was increased to $5,000 per semester for all currently enrolled and future bright star scholars. These criteria reflect the foundation’s mission and goal of supporting students who would most benefit from financial support in order to increase the potential of achieving their post-secondary education and career goals. All applications are due no later than 5:00 pm on March 15 of the applicant’s senior year of high school and scholarship winners will be announced by the end of April of the same year. The following Hopkins County, Texas school district graduates will be eligible to apply for scholarships:
- Como-Pickton CISD
- Cumby ISD
- Miller Grove ISD
- North Hopkins ISD
- Saltillo ISD
- Sulphur Bluff ISD
- Sulphur Springs ISD
How do I establish eligibility?
Students who compete through an application process for the annual scholarships will be required to meet the following criteria:
- B average on whatever Grade Point Average (GPA) scale is used by their district
- 80% attendance average for last 7 semesters of high school (grades 9-12)
- Graduating senior from a school in Hopkins County, TX
- Demonstrate a need for financial support to continue education or lessen financial burdens beyond high school graduation
What are the requirements?
STEP 1 – Establishing Eligibility
- Applicants must complete a Step 1 Bright Stars Scholarship application form that may be submitted as a hard copy or electronically through the foundation’s website no later than 5:00 pm on March 15.
- Applicants must submit an official transcript for the first seven semesters of high school with the application.
- Applicants must submit an official attendance form from their school that confirms their attendance record for the first seven semesters of high school.
- Applicants must submit their official FASFA forms submitted or a parent/guardian must submit the required documents to establish a need for financial assistance for college.
- Applicants must meet the published application deadlines established. The Step 1 application requirements will be vetted by the foundation’s executive director to ensure all required documents have been submitted. Once all documents have been submitted within published deadline applicants will be notified of their eligibility status based on published criteria and will move on to Step 2 if eligible.
Step 2 – Submission of Final Documents and Interview
- In Step 2, eligible applicants must write an essay on a given topic related to the mission and goals of the foundation. Each applicant will receive the same essay prompt.
- In Step 2, applicants must have letters of recommendation submitted by three adults. These letters of recommendation must be mailed by the authors of the letters to the executive director at the foundation’s designated address or written and uploaded on the foundation’s website. An applicant will not be eligible to interview until all three letters of recommendation have been received. It is highly recommended these letters be received by March 19 in order to have time to set up an interview with a committee.
- In Step 2, applicants must conduct an interview with the John and Deborah Gillis Foundation’s Bright Stars Scholarship Advisory Committee. The Executive Director will work with the applicant to set up his or her interview date and time.
- Applicants must also submit and complete all of Step 2 Bright Stars Scholarship application processes, including the interview, no later than 5:00 pm on April 5.
Remaining Scholarship Eligible in Post-Secondary Institution Studies
- Bright Stars Scholarship winners must retain an overall 2.5 GPA to remain eligible to receive scholarship funding each semester in college or their post-secondary educational institution attended.
- Bright Stars Scholarship winners must submit an official transcript to the foundation’s Executive Director after each semester from their post-secondary educational institution to remain eligible for scholarship funds.
- The Bright Stars Scholarship funds for each winner will be sent directly to the post-secondary institution to pay for tuition, housing, books, required tools, parking fees, etc.
The selection process has been designed with the intent of eliminating biases and conflicts of interest for all applicants so to ensure fidelity within the scholarship program. A Bright Stars Scholarship Advisory Committee, created by residents within Hopkins County, TX., will work together to identify the top 10 (ten) winners to receive the scholarships. Board members, as well as the Executive Director, will nominate and come to a consensus on 12 county residents to serve a two-year term on this advisory committee. Committee membership may be renewed at the end of the two-year term by the Board of Directors.
Three members of the Bright Stars Scholarship Advisory committee will be assigned to an applicant to review required documents and, using a scoring rubric, give points in each of these three areas:
- Essay – counts as 30% of total score
- Letters of recommendations – average of the three LOR counts as 20% of total score
- Interview – counts as 50% of total score
The foundation’s Executive Director will NOT be a part of the scoring process for the scholarship selection process. The executive director’s role is to:
- facilitate the process to ensure equity,
- ensure fidelity in the process and,
- manage the logistics of the submission of applications, communications between the foundation and applicants and parents/guardians and set up interviews with the Scholarship Advisory Committee.
Though only three members of the advisory selection committee will be assigned to give scores when reading essay responses, letters of recommendations and conducting interviews, in case of a conflict of interest an advisory member might be changed out for another of the advisory committee members. Advisory committee members will be assigned to these scholarship applicants based on a lack of conflict of interest that may occur. Each scholarship advisory member will score the submitted essays, interviews and Letter of Recommendations individually and write scores on a total scoring sheet. After each document is scored for their assigned applicant the team members will come to consensus on a score in each of the three areas and the team’s facilitator will return scores to the Executive Director. Once all scores are tallied the results will be sent out to the foundation’s Board President to sign off on and then winning recipients will be notified. All Bright Stars Scholarship Advisory Committee members will be required to sign a confidentiality document for any and all submitted applications and corresponding documents by applicants stating they may not discuss nor disclosure information on documents nor outcomes. No Bright Stars Advisory Committee member will see any financial documents of families of students who submit applications. Only the foundation’s Executive Director will view those documents during the vetting process to ensure an applicant meets criteria for moving on to Step 2 in the process.