One big reason Chester Bowl exists is so any family can participate in recreation programs in the park regardless of their income or ability to pay. For decades, Chester Bowl has had a scholarship fund that has helped hundreds of families afford to ski, snowboard, and come to summer camp by awarding full or partial scholarships. Up until this point, no family has been turned away, and every scholarship request has been awarded in full.
Over the last few years, scholarship requests have skyrocketed. This is good news in one way, because it means we have been able to help more families who want to participate in Chester Bowl programs. And although fundraising for the scholarship fund has also increased, it has not kept pace with requests.
As one comparison, in 2018 we awarded $8,000 in summer camp scholarships and $18,500 in winter scholarships. Over the last year, we awarded $32,000 in summer camp scholarships and $42,000 in winter scholarships- nearly triple the requests in just a five-year span! In most years fundraising has fallen short of requests by about $6,000, which we have been able to absorb as an organization and still fully award requests. For the last two years, that gap has been about $27,000, and we simply can’t afford to provide unlimited scholarships any more. We are at a point where we have to limit scholarships to ensure we are able to continue providing programs and scholarships into the future.
For the winter of 2023/2024, we have $25,000 in scholarship awards available. This is still a significant amount, but it is very likely that requests will exceed the funding we have available.
Families will need to request scholarships during the registration period between September 12 and 9 am on October 9. The request is part of the regular registration process, and you will have the opportunity to request a full or partial scholarship. We expect that anyone who does not register by the deadline is unlikely to be awarded a scholarship.
If you are a family requesting a scholarship, we want you to ask for what you need – but only what you need. Families may be responsible for paying a portion of their program fees even if they requested a full scholarship. We are optimistic that we can spread out the awards so that most, or even all, of the folks wanting to participate this winter will be able to afford to. You MUST register by 9am on October 9 to be awarded a scholarship for the winter, even if you are just requesting a season pass.
Chester Bowl is prioritizing scholarships for new families and returning families who completed their volunteer hours last winter first, followed by returning families that did not complete their volunteer hours. Families with the lowest income will also likely receive a higher percentage of their request than those with higher income.
Your family will be notified of its scholarship award by Chester staff before noon on Tuesday, October 10. If your family chooses to accept this award amount and move forward with the winter program you will watch the winter slideshow and sign up for fitting times.
For future years, the total scholarship amount available will be based on the prior year’s fundraising, and will be split between summer and winter programming. We raise money for the scholarship fund through Fall Fest gate donations, Skis, Suds, & Slices, Grants (thank you Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation and Rotary Club 25 for your recent awards!) and donations from individuals and businesses. If you want to support the scholarship fund, please give generously at the Fall Fest gate, come out to Skis, Suds, & Slices on November 10 and bid on silent auction items, and/or contact Dave about making your tax-deductible gift directly.
If you have any questions about the scholarship fund, you can reach out to Dave at email@example.com or 218-940-9378.