June 6, 2023

Webinar Blog: Responsible Stewardship of Scholarship Funds

In our recent webinar, Responsible Stewardship of Scholarship Funds, we sat down with our client, CNM Ingenuity, to discuss exciting ways to demonstrate responsible stewardship of funders dollars and achieve maximum impact. While CNM Ingentuity’s insights come from running scholarship programs, they are applicable to grant management in any field. 

CNM Ingenuity is in charge of a large scholarship initiative for the State of New Mexico that aims to increase the pool of highly qualified educators across the state. Program Director Holly Gurule has been at the helm throughout CNM Ingenuity’s successes, which include tripling the number of scholarships and wage supplement awards in the past three years. 

Given their impressive track record, we were eager to learn the secrets behind CNM Ingenuity’s achievements. Below, we highlight 3 of Gurule’s best practices for responsible stewardship. For more, watch the webinar recording here.


1. Utilize the power of story

Two important components of responsible stewardship are accountability for the funds you disburse and the ability to pinpoint the tangible impacts those funds have enabled. While that sounds straightforward, the more complex your program, the more challenging it becomes. If you view the connections between the data points as the outline of a story rather than solely as tracking metrics, though, you can bring your program to life for stakeholders. 

Because CNM Ingenuity supports different types of scholarships at numerous universities, their tracking is multifaceted. Keeping a close eye on data is crucial with so many moving parts. It helps CNM Ingenuity ensure that program priorities are achieved and also enables them to be accountable. Says Gurule, “the things I love most about this scholarship program are also the things that make it so complex to manage.” So what exactly is Gurule’s secret to successfully stewarding a complex program? It all comes down to the story. 

In addition to making sure contractual obligations are fulfilled, a heavy reliance on data and reporting gives Gurule and her team perspective into the story that the data points are telling. This extends to successes, missed opportunities, and areas that could be given new life. Gurule notes that she and her team “are always on a continuous improvement cycle, [always asking] what could we do better? We are constantly learning and evolving. And the technology behind what we do is constantly learning and evolving.” 

CNM Ingenuity is open to what the story presents and what it suggests could be done to improve stewardship and impact. This keeps Gurule’s team adaptable, open, and results-oriented; in other words, just the set of attitudes required to be forward-thinking, responsible stewards.

2. Make your application accessible

Access and equity are crucial in the quest for responsible stewardship and meaningful impact. Having a nuanced understanding of the demographics you serve is the first step to ensuring both. 

CNM Ingenuity has a large Spanish-speaking population, which means that to ensure equity as well as access, applications and instructions must be available in Spanish as well as English. Some segments of their population have low levels of comfort with technology. To be truly equitable, it’s important to ensure the application provides clear directions on each step, and to offer help navigating the process. This is why CNM Ingenuity provides virtual help sessions, phone calls, and scheduled appointments for those who need assistance. 

Meeting applicants where they are goes a long way to ensuring access and equity. It’s not only a matter of offering applications in different languages; it is also about providing assistance in a format that makes sense to the applicant. CNM Ingenuity has a series of “explainer videos” illuminating what information is required in each section of the application.

But they don’t stop there. They also offer the ability to speak to a real person, and to schedule an appointment to do so, which builds in accountability for applicants. This can go a long way in making an intimidating technology more approachable, and in making an applicant feel supported in the process.

3. Harness transformative technology

Gurule mentions that some players in the scholarship field are still using a paper-based system for the bulk of their application processing, tracking, and reporting, rather than a technological solution. This eats up extra time, creates a higher administrative burden, and interrupts communication with applicants.

In their discovery process, CNM Ingenuity realized that one of their top priorities was to employ a transformative system that “housed the entire flow from start to finish [and] was accessible to applicants and the processing team.” Due to the “high-touch and time-intensive" nature of their program” Gurule’s team “especially wanted to know where [they could] use technology to automate tasks so that their staff’s time could be spent on value-added activities” rather than administrative work. 

Zengine offered the perfect technology solution for their needs. According to Gurule, “You can absolutely see the effectiveness of the streamlined application process, the efficiencies built in. The staff is able to turn applications around more quickly, communications are clearer, the overall flow just works better.”

Using a software program that organizes and simplifies your workflow can transform the work you’re doing by freeing up time for you to focus on the human element of the  work your grant program enables.


To learn more about how CNM Ingenuity is changing the educational landscape of New Mexico, watch the webinar recording here. 

Interested in partnering with a team that will help you automate your processes, maximize your impact, and enhance your stewardship? Connect with us here.

Keep up with the latest from WizeHive

Subscribe to the monthly Get Wize newsletter.