Financial Accessibility/Financial Aid

In order to fulfill our promise and potential, we need to do what we can to ensure that financial accessibility is not a barrier to attending conferences. Star Island has long recognized this, and has taken positive steps to encouraging prospective Shoalers to access financial aid. Our belief is that Shoalers and potential Shoalers are a family, and we are committed to fostering this relationship. As conference leaders, please make the following information available in all your marketing material. We encourage you to add a well publicized section of your website devoted to financial aid and to link to the Star Island website.

Resources for financial assistance

Financial Grants/Scholarships

Your conference may have a method to offer financial assistance. Additionally, Star Island has a Financial Grants program. If you have questions, or need information, please feel free to reach out to our Registrar, Mike Bray at mbray@starisland.org. Beginning in 2020, most conferences have agreed to coordinate their financial assistance resources with the SIC’s Financial Grants process. We have found that we can do the most good for the most people by coordinating our available resources and eliminating as many barriers as possible. You may also consider identifying funds for furthering beloved community effort through financial assistance.

Discounts

Star Island has offered a robust discount program as a marketing and outreach effort to bring new folks, and those who haven’t been for a while, out to the island. The goal of this program is separate from the goal of the Financial Grants program – it’s about bringing new people (regardless of their financial security) to growing conferences on Star. Nevertheless discounts can play a factor in financial accessibility.

Conference staff stipends

Your conference may consider offering a stipend for a staff position (such as youth group leader) to cover some or all of the costs of attending.

Clergy Grants

If you wish to extend assistance to a Unitarian clergy, you may also contact the ISA-UU and inquire about their clergy grants program.

Other Diversity/Social Justice Grants:

For summer camps :

https://www.americaspromise.org/news/funding-opportunities-205

http://www.summerfund.org/funding-for-camps-and-programs/

For churches/religious groups:

https://www.uua.org/finance/grants/uufp

https://lillyendowment.org/our-work/religion/public-understanding-of-religion/

Church sponsorship from within your church or from other churches. (individual contributions or collection plate donations).

Communicating about financial assistance

In your communications about the conference (email, website, social media etc.), inform and remind people about their options for financial assistance. Make the process normalized and visible in as many places as possible.

Consider that an individual’s circumstances can be complex. We recommend that each conference designate a warm and inviting person, whether that be the Conference Registrar or another individual, who can become familiar with the process and all of the resources available to assist registrants in the process, while maintaining confidentiality.

The matter of financial assistance can be somewhat delicate. Some may be hesitant to accept what could be perceived as “charity” and feel undeserving or embarrassed. Your conference’s communications and process surrounding financial accessibility should hold up the dignity of applicants as much as possible. Consider how you might convey to potential applicants that their presence is important to the conference, and it would be a better experience for everyone if they were able to contribute to the community experience. Funds have been dedicated for the purpose of helping build the island community, and it would be a shame if money was left over at the end, and at the same time individuals did not register because of financial barriers. Your conference may want to consider using the word “grants” in your language, rather than “scholarship,” “aid,” or “assistance.”

Raising Funds to Expand Financial Aid Offerings

To keep these options available and to expand on existing options, we encourage all conferences to organize a way to raise funds that can be used for a conference financial aid program or targeted scholarship program that supports families of color or families made up of demographics that are underrepresented at your conference. Some ways to do this include a silent auction or an art auction or whatever method of fundraising your conference prefers.

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