Meet the Kiwanis Carefree Scholarship Committee


The Kiwanis Club Scholarship Committee awards college scholarships and merit awards to local high school seniors. Since its inception in 1986, the Scholarship Committee has awarded over $2 million in scholarships and merit awards to college-bound seniors. Over 60 students in the classes of 2019 and 2020 have benefited from the generosity of Kiwanis. Scholarship and merit award for these two classes total over $490,000 in scholarship and merit awards.

Typical scholarships include both 2-year or community college scholarships and 4-year college scholarships. Additionally, the merit awards focus on achievement in areas such as Arts and Humanities, Athletics, Foreign Language, Key Club, Math, and Science. Awarded scholarship distribution is equal installments divided over 4 or 8 college semesters (depending on the type of scholarship). For example, a $4,000 4-year scholarship equates to 8 equal payments of $500 payable to the college. In contrast, the merit awards are a one-time award, also payable directly to the college, that also assists students with defraying the high cost of college tuition.

In addition to funds provided by the Foundation, private donors have also contributed monies to support the scholarship program. Scholarship donations for the past five years have totaled approximately $62,000. The contributions from donors have increased the available funds for the scholarship committee. As a result, the Committee can provide financial assistance to more worthy students. Private donor contributions to the scholarship fund are always welcomed and appreciated. Donors can elect to remain anonymous or have a scholarship awarded in their name.

The Committee’s task is to identify area high school seniors who are eligible for one of the many available awards. The Scholarship Committee invests approximately a month thoroughly reviewing all applications to determine the most deserving recipients. Qualifying criteria include living within the service area of the Kiwanis Club of Carefree or attending high school within the service area. In 2019 scholarship and merit recipients were students who attended five area high schools (and all reside in the Cave Creek area). In addition to the three Arizona state universities and Grand Canyon University, our scholarships have assisted with college tuition at over 35 colleges and universities across the country. As a point of interest, a few of the colleges include Stanford, MIT, Cal Poly, Georgetown, and Notre Dame.

Applicants in the class of 2020 were the first to utilize the new online applications for the scholarships and merit awards. Fortunately, paper applications are now a thing of the past as there were over 200 applications to review this year! Students were able to access the applications from any device (smartphone, laptop, iPad, etc.). Streamlining the application process has not compromised the quantity or quality of information sought from students. In addition to submitting the transcripts needed, the applications require students to identify notable academic achievements, school activities, and community service.

Once the application is submitted, the software provider redacts the student’s name and assigns a unique number in its place. Throughout the review process, the Committee only knows the applicant by number. Numbering the applications eliminates the possibility of bias while also providing a more efficient manner to organize the applications.

Ron Bell, Scott Brown, Charlie Civer, Mariaelena Rizzo, and Jim Shaw make up the Scholarship Committee with Janet Busbee serving as committee chair. Each member of the Committee brings a unique perspective to the vetting process, which allows for a great deal of objectivity when reviewing the applications. Janet has been the chair of the Scholarship Committee for four years. Additionally, she has been a Kiwanis member since 2010. Janet is a Purdue graduate (Go Boilers!).

Kids benefit from Kiwanis club of Carefree with scholarships