#210 : Should You Offer Coaching Scholarships
with Dani Abernathy 
headshot of guest Dani Abernathy for her "should you offer coaching scholarships" podcast episode


Episode at a Glance

Book Coach Dani Abernathy has a deep desire to serve marginalized or underrepresented fiction writers. Which means she wants to roll out a scholarship program. Yet, so many questions stop her in her tracks. Today, Dallas coaches Dani through some Getting Started Questions to get her on the right track toward an equitable and sustainable scholarship program.

Key Takeaways

  • Alignment with Mission: Ensure the scholarship program aligns with the mission & values of the company.
  • Equity over Fairness: Prioritize equity over fairness when designing scholarship criteria, considering factors such as financial need and the unique circumstances of scholarship recipients.
  • Clear Expectations and Support: Clearly define expectations for scholarship recipients regarding participation and progress, while also providing ongoing support and flexibility to accommodate individual needs and challenges.
  • Clarity in Selection: Define clear criteria for selecting scholarship recipients based on the program’s mission and capacity.
  • Financial Aid Approach: Framing the program as a financial aid initiative can allow for a more sustainable model that aligns with the program’s goals.
  • Focus on Impact: Prioritize deep impact over quantity by focusing on supporting a manageable number of scholarship recipients effectively.

Timestamps & Key Topics
[00:00] Introduction and setting the stage
[02:47] Intention behind a scholarship program
[04:35] The goal of the scholarship program and its alignment with the company’s mission
[06:03] Differentiating between fairness and equity in scholarship programs
[09:00] Establishing criteria for the scholarship program
[10:32] Addressing financial criteria and the complexities of assessing financial need
[16:12] Considering the time commitment and support needed for scholarship recipients to succeed
[18:45] Setting expectations for scholarship recipients
[21:35] Finalizing criteria for scholarship recipients and ensuring ongoing support and communication
[22:41] Establishing criteria for the company in regards to the scholarship program
[27:16] Dallas outlines three key questions for Dani to contemplate regarding the program’s structure and qualifications
[29:30] Start the scholarship program with clear criteria and gradually refine it based on experience
[32:16] Framing the program as a financial aid program rather than a scholarship program
[33:42] Determining the operating costs of the program and using a tiered approach for scholarship recipients
[38:23] Starting the scholarship program with a clear goal and a manageable number of recipients
[40:52] Importance of focusing on deep impact vs quantity
[43:49] Dani discusses her next steps


Dani Abernathy
Dani Abernathy


Dallas Travers
Dallas Travers

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Episode Highlights

Building A Fair And Impactful Scholarship Program

Today we’re going to talk about coaching scholarships. I want to draw a clear distinction between discounts and scholarships.

A while back inside the Hive, we had a member share that someone requested a scholarship into her program. After a little negotiation back and forth, this coach said yes to the client’s scholarship request. But when we looked at the circumstances, this client didn’t earn a scholarship, they just got a discount.

Which is not equitable or sustainable. 

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with offering discounts, but don’t confuse them with scholarships. 

A scholarship is something that is awarded based on merit, achievement, or other qualifications. 

Scholarships require structure, clear criteria, and an equitable process to evaluate the winners. 

Scholarships require intention. They’re important and I want all of us to be thoughtful about when, why, and to whom we decide to grant scholarships. 

Okay, that sets the stage for today’s episode with my guest, Dani Abernathy. Together we explore the intention behind an equitable, sustainable scholarship program and the broader mission to amplify marginalized voices through literature.

Making Scholarships Work For Everyone

First off, Dani shared challenges related to defining the parameters and process of the scholarship program, along with emotional concerns. I recommend being open to adapting and evolving. It’s about getting it right for the people we can help now and then growing from there.

Set the bar with some starter criteria for applicants. Dani should be curious about their publishing plans, their stories, and what could hold them back. This isn’t just about financial need; it’s about ensuring they can fully engage and make the most of what she offers.

Defining The Scholarship Program’s Framework

We discussed the importance of aligning the scholarship with Dani’s company’s mission and the criteria for eligibility. This includes the intention to publish, community representation, financial need, and potential barriers to participation.

Equity vs. Fairness

Scholarships don’t have to mean free. Based on some wise advice, Dani and I are thinking of it more like financial aid where recipients contribute something. This keeps everyone invested and values the program’s cost to deliver.

How do we decide who pays what? It’s about balancing your capacity to serve well with the need to keep the program sustainable. Take a hard look at the actual costs of delivering your program to each person to keep things fair and doable.

In a nutshell, it’s about making sure your coaching scholarships are meaningful, accessible, and supportive for those ready to bring their dreams to life while staying true to what we can offer and improve over time.

Program Structure and Support Needs

To beef up support, Dani is considering extra one-on-one calls and more hands-on help for scholarship recipients. It’s not about packing the room; it’s about making sure each person gets what they need to thrive.

We’re all about meaningful progress. Our aim is for these scholarships to not just add numbers but to truly resonate with the folks we’re trying to help. That means tailoring our program to fit the unique needs and ensuring we’ve got the chops to fully support each participant.

And although it’s tough, we also talked about letting people down gently if it’s a no-go. The goal here isn’t to serve everyone under the sun but to make a genuine impact in the lives of those we can help.

Crafting Your Own Equitable Coaching Scholarships

To sum it up, clarity and fairness are our guides as we navigate the world of coaching scholarships. It’s all about making sure we hit the mark where it counts.

If you have ever made the common mistake of slapping a discount on your offer and calling it a scholarship. Or, maybe you want to develop an aligned scholarship program in your own business, I hope watching this podcast episode can get you started down that path.