BrandSource Scholarship

In collaboration with Together We Rise, the Brandsource Scholarship provides access to academic and workforce opportunities for America's current and former foster youth. To accomplish this, scholarship recipients receive up to 5,500 annually for up to two years in an effort to alleviate the financial burdens associated with securing a trade certification, licensure. and/or vocational degree. To ensure their long-term success, recipients have an opportunity to receive access to peronsal mentorship and career development services.

Tuition

Up to two years of academic support to help with program costs.

Housing

Rent support, academic housing needs, and relocation services.

Tools & Equipment

Specialized tools and equipment needed for each student's trade.

Job Readiness

Job readiness and life skills for the modern workforce.

Support System

Emotional support and wrap-around services for the student.

Application Process

The BrandSource Scholarship provides workforce-enriching opportunities for current and former foster youth enrolling in trade schools or apprenticeship programs. TWR believes that foster youth can benefit from trade and technical skills that will allow them to immediately enter the workforce upon completion with the opportunity to earn a favorable living in a sustainable field. Click here to learn more about the application and scholarship requirements.

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Founders

BrandSource is the leading member-owned buying organization for independent appliances, home furnishings, and consumer tech dealers. Brandsource has over 4,500 locally-owned appliances, electronics, bedding, home furnishings, and floor covering stores all across the country.

The BrandSource mission is to provide business solutions to meet our member dealers' merchandising, marketing, financial and operational needs. Our suite of proprietary services includes marketing, retail financing, merchandising programs, training, strategic planning, servicer support, and website design and hosting.

BrandSource Scholars Founder

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ panel answers some common questions regarding the application, selection, and admissions process. Please visit our contact us page for additional information.

General Information

Can I use the scholarship at any college and for any trade?

The applicant must have been accepted into or expecting acceptance into an accredited two-year public or nonprofit college or vocational-technical school. Scholarship funding for for-profit colleges will not be considered.

The scholarship will accept any trade as long as the certification can be completed within the two-year scholarship funding period. The scholarship will place a strong focus on applicants pursuing the trades noted in the eligibility requirements.

Can this scholarship be used for four-year professional studies or post-graduate studies?

No, this scholarship is reserved solely for current and former foster youth who are pursuing a trade degree/certification at a two-year college or vocational-technical school. No exceptions will be made

Can I apply if I was never in foster care?

No, this scholarship is solely reserved for individuals who experienced foster care in the United States. No exceptions will be made.

What are the eligibility criteria to apply for this scholarship?

  • The applicant must be 18-25 years of age during the application year. Applicants aged seventeen (17) years old can apply with a guardian's signature. Applicants turning twenty-five (25) years before August 1st of the application year can apply. 
  • The applicant has been accepted into or expects acceptance into an accredited two-year public or nonprofit college or vocational-technical school for the upcoming academic year with the intent to enroll on a full-time basis.
  • The applicant is a citizen of the United States of America.
  • The applicant graduated from high school or passed General Educational Development (GED) testing, or is currently a high school senior or on track to complete GED.
  • The applicant (a) lived in public or private foster care in the United States for the twelve (12) consecutive months leading up to and including Recipient’s eighteenth (18th) birthday, or (b) was orphaned for at least one (1) year at the time of Recipient’s eighteenth (18th) birthday.
  • Majoring in a two-year trade degree or certification. The scholarship will place a strong emphasis on applicants pursuing the following fields but will consider applicants pursuing other trades: [In a bubble or popup link] HVAC Technician, Electrician, Auto Mechanic, Plumbing, Equipment Operator, Construction, Cabinet Making, Appliance Repair, Home Inspector, Nurse’s Assistant, Carpentry, Tool Making, Veterinarian Technician, Culinary, Cosmetology, Dental Assistant, Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), Real Estate, Agriculture & Horticulture, Commercial Truck Driving.

For verification purposes, supporting paperwork will be required as part of the application to verify eligibility. Failure to provide all supporting documentation will result in the disqualification of the application.


 

When can I apply?

The scholarship application window will open on June 20th and close in the Fall. Applicants can apply anytime within the application window. Once closed, applications will not be accepted until the following year. Please sign up for our newsletter for more information about this scholarship and other Together We Rise programs.

How do I apply?

 

Step 1 - Complete the online application available during the scholarship application window. 

Step 2 - Verification documents must be uploaded to the student's application portal. An email containing the link to the personalized upload portal will be provided upon completion of step one. The following documents must be provided to Together We Rise no later than the application deadline:

  • High School Transcripts
  • College/Trade School Transcript (if applicable)
  • Proof of Foster Care Status
  • Personal Statement Essay (2-5 pages)
  • Business-Ready Selfie or Headshot Photograph
  • Two (2) Letters of Recommendation
  • Acceptance Letter to Trade/Vocational Program


 

Required Documents

Proof of Trade Program Admission

A copy of the trade program/college admissions letter is required. If the applicant is still deciding on which program to attend, all admissions letters must be provided. If the applicant has not received an admissions letter, include copies of the application letters as proof of intent to attend the program/college. If the applicant is a current student enrolled in a trade program, provide enrollment verification or transcripts as proof of admissions.

Letters of Recommendation

A letter of recommendation is written by someone who can recommend an individual's work or performance based on experiences and personal interactions with the individual. A minimum of two (2) Letters of Recommendation are required. Failure to provide two letters will disqualify your application.

Who can you ask for Letters of Recommendation? Mentors, teachers, counselors, advocates, coaches, supervisors, volunteer coordinators, school administrators, program directors, case managers, social workers, judges, lawyers, community leaders, and others who hold professional positions of high responsibility are eligible to write a letter of recommendation. Letters that are written by the applicant, friends, neighbors, foster parents, guardians, or family members will not be accepted.

Business-Ready Selfie or Headshot Photograph

An appropriate photo of the applicant will be required. The photo will be used by the selection committee to identify the applicants during the video interviews and for professional marketing purposes should the student be selected. A photo is required to complete the application but will not be scored as part of the selection process.

The photograph should be one that professionally represents you. The photo must be taken from the shoulders and up, taken with a plain background, taken in the best lighting possible, and must not appear blurry. Avoid adding any filters, stickers, or modifying the image with any 3rd-party software. A selfie will suffice as long as it meets the requirements noted above.


 

Personal Statement Essay

The essay instructions will be distributed to all applicants by email after completing the online application (step one). The applicant should carefully review the prompt, follow the instructions outlined, and do their best at answering the questions.

The Personal Statement should introduce yourself to the selection committee. We want to know about you; your personal story and experiences in foster care; your motivations to pursue this trade; and your personal and professional goals.

Your essay will be scored using a rubric measuring your ability to fully answer the prompt, ability to articulate ideas clearly and concisely, the grammatical merit of the paper, proper MLA formatting, length of essay (essays less than 2 pages or more than 5 pages will be penalized), and relatability to the program.

Academic integrity is of the utmost importance. It is your responsibility to write your essay and tell your story. Any plagiarized essays will not be accepted and will disqualify you from the application process.



 

Proof of Ward of the Court, Guardianship, or Foster Care Documentation

Physical verification of foster care status is required. Documentation may include copies of the ward of the court letter, guardianship documentation, verification letter from a social worker or advocate, or court documentation clearly stating the applicants’ experience in foster care. Please reach out to Together We Rise if additional clarification is required.

College/Trade Program Transcripts (if applicable)

College/trade program transcripts will be required if the applicant is currently enrolled in such a program. Copies of a current transcript can be requested from the college academic advisor, school administrator/registrar, or made available through the applicant's school portal. A college transcript, including all auxiliary documentation, must be uploaded using the link provided by Together We Rise.

High School Transcripts

The most recent high school transcript will be required. Please request a copy of your transcript from an academic advisor or school administrator/registrar. A high school transcript, including all auxiliary documentation, must be uploaded using the link provided by Together We Rise. Digital unofficial transcripts will be accepted as long as they are current and match the information presented in the online application.

If the applicant is currently in college, the applicant must provide both high school and college transcripts.

What verification paperwork is required to complete the application?

Together We Rise must receive all of the following documents to complete an application:

  • High School Transcripts
  • College/Trade School Transcript (if applicable)
  • Proof of Foster Care Status
  • Personal Statement Essay (2-5 pages)
  • Business-Ready Selfie or Headshot Photograph
  • Two (2) Letters of Recommendation
  • Acceptance Letter to Trade/Vocational Program

Paperwork must be received no later than the application deadline. Documents not received within the application window will not be reviewed.


 


 

Online Application Process

Am I required to submit proof of citizenship?

Proof of citizenship will be required during finalist selection. Applicants born in the United States will require proof in the form of (1) a U.S. birth certificate, (2) a US-issued passport, or (3) a US Certificate of Citizenship.

Applicants not born in the United States but who are US Citizens are required to provide proof in the form of (1) a copy of a photo ID from your United States-issued passport which includes your full legal name, or (2) a copy of your citizenship certificate.

Applicants with Permanent Resident Status or Undocumented individuals are not eligible for this scholarship.

If I applied for other Together We Rise programs and was not awarded funding, can I apply to this program?

Yes, you are welcome to apply as long as you still meet our eligibility requirements.

What if I am no longer in contact with my social worker. What do I enter on the online application?

Include any and all information from your last known social worker or social service advocate on your application. Do your best to source this information by contacting your most recent social services office. If you cannot locate the information from this individual, please contact Together We Rise.

What address should I use on my application?

Use your current mailing address on your application. If you will be moving please keep us informed of your new address. If you do not have a mailing address, please contact Together We Rise for additional assistance.

Do I need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) before applying for this

No, but it is highly recommended that all applicants apply for Federal Student Aid. Please visit https://studentaid.gov/ for more information about the application and deadlines for financial aid. It is also recommended that all current and former foster youth identify the state financial benefits offered for transitioning foster youth.

I made a mistake on my application and I would like to correct it. What do I do?

Please contact Together We Rise via email with your request and the information you would like to edit. To avoid creating duplicate applications, please do not submit a new application.

Academic Standing & Transcripts

I am having difficulty securing my high school or college transcript. What should I do?

The applicant should start by contacting their school administrator's office and request a copy of their academic transcripts. Applicants should be patient but persistent in their requests. The applicant can contact Together We Rise through email for additional guidance on how to secure the necessary documents.

Is there an educational requirement for GPA or academic performance?

No, this scholarship does not have academic requirements to apply, however, the scholarship selection committee will take into consideration students that have performed exceptionally well during their high school and post-secondary years. If academic performance suffered during that time, the applicant should use their personal statement to address their challenges and how they plan to overcome them in the future.

I am in a trade program with only a few months remaining before completing my certification, and I meet the qualification criteria. Can I still apply?

Yes, the scholarship can assist in getting you to the finish line! Know that funding is only available while you complete your certification program and is not intended to pay down or pay back any student loans you may have withdrawn. Funds will not extend to any other education or trade programs after completion.

Foster Care Status

I was placed into kinship care from foster care, can I apply?

Yes, applicants can complete the online application and submit their supporting documents.

I was orphaned for less than one year before my eighteenth birthday. Can I apply?

The applicant should contact Together We Rise with their supporting documentation. Together We Rise will assess the foster care status and make a determination thereafter. We ask that the applicant not apply until a Together We Rise staff approves their foster care status.

I was adopted or placed into legal guardianship from foster care. Can I apply?

In most circumstances, the applicant will not be eligible to apply. If the applicant feels they have a special case, they will be asked to present supporting documentation to Together We Rise for evaluation and asked not to apply until a Together We Rise staff approves their foster care status.

I lived in public or private foster care for less than twelve consecutive months before my eighteent

In most circumstances, the applicant will not be eligible. We encourage the applicant to contact Together We Rise with supporting documentation to assess their foster care status. We ask that the applicant not apply until a Together We Rise staff approves their foster care status.

What if I don’t know my foster care status or do not have the appropriate documentation?

The applicant will be responsible for securing the necessary paperwork. The applicant can start by contacting their social worker’s office and requesting proof of foster care. The applicant can ask their guardian or foster family. The applicant can contact their county social services office or state child welfare offices or the state ombudsman office to secure documentation.

Age Eligibility

I am or will be 25 years of age before August of the application year. Can I apply?

In most circumstances, the applicant will not be eligible to apply. If the applicant feels they have a special case, they will be asked to provide supporting documentation to Together We Rise for evaluation. We ask that the applicant not apply until Together We Rise approves the circumstance.

I am 17 years of age (or younger). Can I apply?

Applicants 17 years of age can apply with a guardian's approval. Applicants younger than 17 are not eligible to apply until they turn 17 years old with guardian approval. If selected, funding will be adjusted accordingly until the recipient's 18th birthday. Know that at no point will funds be distributed to a guardian, family, or anyone besides the student.

Personal Statement

My essay is longer than 5 pages. Can I submit my essay?

It is strongly encouraged that applicants keep the essay to no more than 5 full pages, not including a cover page. Together We Rise will offer ample time during the interview process to allow applicants to elaborate on their essay. If the applicant feels comfortable with submitting an essay longer than five full pages they can, however, essays longer than 5 pages (not counting title pages) will be penalized when scoring.

My essay is shorter than 2 full pages, not counting my cover page. Can I submit my essay?

It is strongly encouraged that applicants use the full length of the paper to tell us their story. If the applicant feels comfortable with submitting an essay with less than two full pages they can, however, says shorter than 2 pages (not counting title pages) will be penalized when scoring.

How much will my personal statement be weighted against my overall application?

Personal statement essays make up one-third of your selection score. The applicant should pay very close attention to the prompt, double-check their essay for grammatical errors, review formatting, and provide a clear and concise essay.

What are the formatting guidelines for the Personal Statement Essay?

Each essay should be formatted using MLA format. Visit Purdue Owl or other citing websites for more information about MLA. Essays not following this format will be scored lower and could impact the applicants’ overall score. The page guidelines are outlined below:

 

 

  • Page layout must be set to the standard 8.5 x 11-inch paper.
  • The essay must be double-spaced and must use a legible font. The font size should be between 11 and 12 pt.
  • The margins of the document should be set to 1 inch on all sides.
  • Indent the first line of each paragraph one half-inch from the left margin. Use the “Tab” key for a  standard indentation.
  • Create a header in the upper right-hand corner of each page that includes your last name followed by the page number.
  • In the upper left-hand corner of your first page, list your full name, the date, and title your document Personal Statement. A title page is not required.

Can I share a draft of my personal statement with Together We Rise for review?

We prefer applicants to find a classmate, a friend, a tutor, or a teacher to support with the essay review. Applicants may contact Together We Rise if there are questions about the prompt, however, Together We Rise will not be reviewing drafts for applicants.

How will my essay be scored?

The Personal Statement will be scored using a rubric measuring the applicant's ability to fully answer the prompt, ability to articulate ideas clearly and concisely, the grammatical merit of the paper, proper formatting, length of the essay, and relatability to the American Industries Trade program.

Scores from the personal statement will be tallied alongside the academic merit scores and the applicant's letters of recommendation. Applicants with the highest scores overall will be recommended to participate in our video interviews and continue in the selection process.

Personal Statement Essay

The essay instructions will be distributed to all applicants by email after completing the online application (step one). The applicant should carefully review the prompt, follow the instructions outlined, and do their best at answering the questions.

The Personal Statement should introduce yourself to the selection committee. We want to know about you; your personal story and experiences in foster care; your motivations to pursue this trade; and your personal and professional goals.

Your essay will be scored using a rubric measuring your ability to fully answer the prompt, ability to articulate ideas clearly and concisely, the grammatical merit of the paper, proper MLA formatting, length of essay (essays less than 2 pages or more than 5 pages will be penalized), and relatability to the program.

Academic integrity is of the utmost importance. It is your responsibility to write your essay and tell your story. Any plagiarized essays will not be accepted and will disqualify you from the application process.



 

Letter of Recommendation

I can secure more than two letters of recommendation?

Yes, however, the selection committee will only select and review two letters picked at random. We recommend only submitting the two best recommendations.

Can my foster parents or guardians write a letter of recommendation?

No. Letters written by the applicant, friends, neighbors, foster parents, guardians, or family members will not be accepted.

I am having a difficult time securing two letters of recommendation. What can I do?

It will be the applicant's responsibility to secure two letters of recommendation from two different individuals. The applicant should feel confident in asking professionals that have seen their work or have interacted with them in the past. Previous social workers, mentors, advocates, police officers, employers, volunteers, church groups, judges, or others who hold positions of high regard can write a letter for the applicant.

What should the individual writing my letter of recommendation include about me?

The letter of recommendation should mention the applicant's academic achievements, leadership development, community involvement, professionalism, maturity and responsibility, career aspirations, and other information that best represents the applicant to the selection committee. Letters of recommendation should be no more than 1-2 pages in length.

How to Upload Documents

I cannot upload my documents to the portal. What can I do?

Submit an inquiry using the Contact Us page and include a detailed explanation of the ongoing issues. A staff person will respond within 48 hours of the inquiry.

I would like to update the documents I provided, how do I replace my old documents?

Using the upload link provided, the applicant can provide us with new documents to replace old or incorrect documents. The applicant should also email Together We Rise to inform staff of such corrections.

Can I save my application and upload documents at a later date?

Yes. Documents may be uploaded individually or all together. The portal will remain available 24/7 during the application window.

I do not have a photo scanner or a way to upload the documents. What should I do?

The applicant can use a working camera or cell phone to take photos of the full document and upload them using the provided link. The applicant should review that the image is visible before uploading any documents. Photos that are not clear or are cut off will not be accepted.

 

Another option includes scanning documents at a school, a local library, or with their employer. For a minimal fee, copy centers like Office Depot, Staples, FedEx Office, UPS Store, and others will scan those documents.

I have not gotten my upload link or essay prompt email? What can I do?

The applicant should search for correspondence from Together We Rise or the American Industries Scholarship using their emails search feature. The applicant will also want to check their spam/junk folder for emails from Together We Rise. Applicants can use the Contact Us page for additional assistance.

How will I know my application has been received and/or completed?

A confirmation email will be issued informing each applicant that their information was received. If documentation is missing or cannot be accepted, Together We Rise will contact the applicant through email with additional steps to provide the correct paperwork.

How to upload documents

An upload link will be provided to each applicant upon completing the initial digital application. The applicant will be instructed to provide the required paperwork, preferably saved in PDF, PNG, JPEG, or JPG format and no more than 25MB in file size.

Scanning or photographed documents are acceptable as long as all digital documents are legible, clear, and contain all pages included in the original document. Missing pages or unclear documents could delay the application review process.

Together We Rise Contact Information

When and how will I be notified of the scholarship selection?

All notifications will be emailed to the applicants soon after the deadline, no later than August of the application year. All scholarship selections will be final.

Who can I talk to if I need assistance with my application?

Due to the high volume of applicants, email is the best method of contact. Please submit your inquiry through our Contact Us page. A staff person will respond to your question(s) within 48 hours.

Scholarship Selection & Award

What are the benefits of becoming a Scholar?

In addition to the monetary award, recipients receive one-on-one support to navigate through their trade program in preparation for the professional workforce. Recipients are given the opportunity to participate in Together We Rise national events and apply for internships with partnering companies. Recipients will participate in annual leadership development events, peer-to-peer retreats, career-building workshops, and much more!

If I graduate before the 2 years or have not used my entire scholarship, do I have access to those f

No, funding is intended to only support trade students during the completion of their vocational certification for up to two consecutive years. Recipients are not entitled to receive the full scholarship amount. Recipients will not be allowed to spend-down funding. Annual funding will not transfer over from year to year.

What can the funds be used for?

These funds are to be used strictly for education-related expenses which can include tuition; administration fees; room & board including off-campus housing; academic supplies including academic technology; textbooks & access codes; tutoring; wellness services; professional & leadership development; relocation costs; travel to academic, employment, or program events; and other academic-related expenses tied to the students trade program.

Do recipients need to pay the scholarship back?

No. This award is not a loan and will not require you to repay it back to Together We Rise.

How soon will funding be distributed to students awarded the scholarship?

Students will be allowed to access their annual allocated funds at the start of the fall semester of the application year. As a member of the American Industries Scholarship, students must comply with program academic expectations and abide by program policy to maintain funding year to year, for up to 2 years, or upon completion of the trade program, whichever occurs first. Funding will be distributed to each award recipient at the sole discretion of Together We Rise. The Family Fellowship Scholarship is not a lump-sum scholarship award nor can applicants request a lump sum award.

How long does the scholarship selection process take & when will scholarship recipients be notified?

Together We Rise will review each application and identify the finalist. Students not selected to continue in the interview process will be informed a week after the application deadline. Scholarship selections will be made before the start of the upcoming school semester.

How are students selected for this scholarship?

A selection committee is tasked with identifying the most qualified candidates for the scholarship. The committee will analyze and score applicants based on extracurricular activities demonstrating leadership in community service and volunteer work, academic merit, career ambitions, and the application essay. The committee will select the top finalists to participate in a series of scored interviews and the highest scoring applicants will be selected. All applicants agree to accept the decisions as final.