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Scouting For Scholarships

EVANSVILLE, Ind. — What’s it worth to earn your Eagle Scout rank? Well, for some, it can be worth about $52,000 over 4 years of college.

An innovative program at the University of Evansville (UE) has awarded scholarships to 123 students, based not just on their success in school, but on their achievements in Scouting.

“You do the math. That’s $6.765 million in scholarships the last 3 years,” said Keith Gehlhausen, Advisor to the University of Evansville’s Venturing Crew, as well as Central Region Venturing Advisor.

Gehlhausen said the school began awarding scholarships to Scouts in 2009. The University of Evansville has several faculty members and administrators who have a Scouting background, he said, and when the university’s admissions department was looking for new ways to attract quality students, they started thinking of ways to recruit Scouts.

Scouts Can Earn College Scholarships
The University of Evansville Scouting Scholarship is open to Eagle Scouts, Venturing Silver Award recipients and top honorees of the Girl Scouts. (Photo courtesy of University of Evansville)

“One of our deans said, ‘Give me an Eagle Scout any day over a 4.0 GPA,’” Gehlhausen said.

Once the university administration compared its mission statement to the mission of Scouting, it was a quick decision to get the scholarship program under way.

Tom Bear, vice president of enrollment services at UE and an Advisor to the Venturing crew, said the mission statements are nearly identical in their goal — to develop young people into moral leaders.

“That’s the foundation between the two,” Bear said.

In addition to Eagle Scouts, the UE Scouting Scholarship is open to Sea Scout Quartermasters, Venturing Silver Award recipients and recipients of the Girl Scouts’ Gold Award or American Heritage Girls’ Stars and Stripes Award.

Scholarship applicants must also show a minimum 3.5 GPA and meet minimum scores on standardized tests. Scholarship winners have come from around 20 different states, Gehlhausen said.

The Crew

Another key to making the scholarships attractive is a vibrant Venturing crew, the Advisors said.

Venturing Crew 365 comprises over 130 members and also doubles as the university’s outdoor club. The dual nature of the organization promotes a diverse membership, including Greeks, athletes and international students.

Could other schools replicate this program?

“We’ve fielded calls from 3 or 4 other universities, saying, ‘Give us the formula,’” Gehlhausen said.

The UE Venturing Advisors said the blueprint consists of a connection between the university, the local council and the community, but two other key ingredients are the scholarship funds and a strong Venturing crew.

“If all it is is a scholarship, it’s not going to work,” Bear said. “You have to build the crew, build the outdoor program, give them a reason to come.”

For more information about the University of Evansville Scouting Scholarship and Venturing crew, check out

The Summit Blog wants to hear more stories of Scouting innovation. What new and exciting ideas are being developed in your local area?

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