I belong to a fraternal (college) organization. We have setup an annual scholarship foundation. Our size is approximately the same as the Diplomacy hobby, if not smaller, (we have 102 members in our Yahoo group). Since inception of the Scholarship in 2000 we have received $15,000 in donations and corporate matching funds.
Heath Gardner (outgoing Dip Pouch editor) and I were at DixieCon discussing ways to increase the Diplomacy hobby ranks among high school and college students. I mentioned the success of my fraternity's scholarship. We then bounced the idea around of a National Diplomacy Scholarship. He suggested I write an article for the Pouch to gauge interest.
At first I thought that a Diplomacy Scholarship would be kind of silly. It is a board game, after all! Scholarships are given to bright students or outstanding athletes, not conniving back-stabbers.
But then I remembered reading an article about a scholarship for Duck Calling, (you know, like Elmer Fudd). Who would give away money to people based on their ability to deceive birds? That thought pushed me over the edge to write this proposal. This game teaches more to it's students than duck calling. So I collected my thoughts, reviewed scholarship documentation and conferred with my fraternity brothers, setting in stone this flawless manifesto.
There are many things in a scholarship foundation's By-Laws that I am not touching because it's mainly legal jargon. All that can be fleshed out later. The following five categories are broken up into pertinent discussions we would need to have to get the scholarship setup.:
The toughest question for a National Diplomacy Scholarship is what criteria determine the scholarship recipient. Our hobby is vast yet varied. It spans gamers sitting in high school cafeterias, old geezers sending snail mail, busy professionals writing vindictive emails and globe trotting face to face stalwarts.
How do we include the most groups to garner the most interest in Diplomacy? Should there be separate awards for PBEM, FTF and snail mail? Should the system incorporate all three into some kind of bizarre trigonometric equation?
First we must look at our own introduction to the hobby. The vast majority of us were hooked via face to face games. A buddy bought the game, got seven people together and you dived right in. You probably played voraciously for a couple of months before girls, cars and summertime broke up the group. Afterwards you tried to get a game together, sometimes successfully. Later you discovered postal or email play, it being much easier to get a game going that away.
What binds us to Diplomacy is our youthful Face to Face beginnings. The scholarship's goal is to seek out more of these events. Therefore we must make the scholarship a catalyst for Face to Face games amongst youths.
A Criteria system should focus on the following three items:
That being said, I've come up with three potential criteria for awarding the scholarship, with Pros and Cons:
Who is eligible to apply for our scholarship?
Here we must look at our potential audiences and determine from which will most readily form the vast army of future diplomats. Will college students who have a lot of free time and free reign over their domain be our best bet? Will they look at a scholarship for a board game as an awesome ironic feather in the cap? Or will they shy away from the stigma of the 2 liter Mt. Dew drinking gamer?
Or perhaps high school students would be a better audience. Their pliable minds ready for indoctrination into the deceptive and intriguing nuances of Diplomacy. Potential paranoid parents may prove to be road blocks, so we will have to name drop, “Kennedy, Cronkite, Kissinger”. Thereby validating the credibility of this most noblest of games.
To answer the eligibility question we must again look to the past. Where did we first get hooked? Personally for me it was in college. But I know many others who got the bug in high school. Our goal is to increase exposure. I propose the scholarship be for anyone under the age of 20. Young minds still discovering their interests. Pursuing their ideology. Diplomacy has the potential to make one better at debate, discourse and decisions. “Whil that iren is hoot, men sholden smyte”. Keen to learn, eager for guidance, young people will be best served by the skills learned in Diplomacy. And once they get the fire in their belly, they will spread their desire.
The Ruling Body, (hereafter referred to as the Board), should include people that have a vested interest in seeing the number of Diplomacy players increase. Unlike a fraternal organization, the Diplomacy hobby is very fluid. Having a static group of people as our voting members would be short-sighted. Many of our members come and go. Some Diplomacy players are very consistent in the hobby for decades. Some play sporadically for years. Others come to the game only for a short period of time. Our pool of members needs to reflect that. The By-Laws should also allow for the change of the voting pool in case of an unforseen change in the way our hobby works.
The actual By-Laws will be much more extensive. Here I am touching on some points that I feel are pertinent to this article.
The prize for our scholarship will of course depend on the amount of funds available. I'm sure the first couple of years will be rather meager. But with the generous donations from our great populace of Lawyers, Self-Made Men, IT professionals, Financial Wizards, Accountants, and other wealthy donors, our Scholarship fund will increase to a great amount quickly. Initially the prize would be monetary only, but eventually could include travel / lodging to Diplomacy Events. If enough money is gathered, we could break the award into multiple regional scholarships and a national scholarship.
As many good hearted people have found, giving can be a pain. The fraternal scholarship in which I participate has 2 main issues:
Whether we receive few or incomplete applications, it is always a challenge to foster interest in scholarships. Not all young people are interested in applying. And ours will be difficult as the whole premise would be to gather interest in our hobby. I would therefore emphasize making the award overly simplistic. Maybe even automatic (highest Grand Prix rating is a no-brainer here). Whatever the mechanism, we need to ensure the whole transaction is a positive experience for the award winner (avoid 'Haughty Donor Syndrome').
The rules for scholarships change, and while not overly complex, do require some time and effort to maintain. If/when the dollar amount reaches the $20,000 range, a third party scholarship managing organization should be looked at by the Board. The reason being is that Board members may become overwhelmed by their responsibilities in the accounting department. This should require a vote by the entire voting population, not just the Board.
The potential rewards of a National Diplomacy Scholarship are an increase in the pool of Diplomacy players, and a greater sense of community among the Diplomacy Corps, (PBEM, FTF and Snail Mail). The obstacles to overcome in setting up the scholarship are challenging, but Dipsters enjoy wrapping their minds around problems. This one should be a walk in the park.
Please email me at email@example.com for further discussions on this topic, or join the yahoo group: DipSchol
Greater Kansas City Community Foundation
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