Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How can I increase my chances of being awarded a scholarship?

A: Be sure that you ask the people writing your letters of recommendation to discuss the specific project on which your application centers in their letters. Also, if any newspaper articles have been written about what you've done, include copies. Explain in clear terms why what you've done matters---what problem it addresses and how. Make sure people writing your letters & sending your transcript make the deadline (giving them stamped, addressed envelopes makes it easier for them)

Q: Who should write my letters of recommendation?

A: People who know you and who are familiar with the project that is central to your application.

Q: Do recommendations have to come from teachers?

A: No, but at least one should come from someone from your school who is familiar with you and your project.

Q: If I have created a project that is new to my school or community but has been done in other communities, am I likely to win?

A: What you have done may be commendable and valuable but if it replicates something that has been done elsewhere it is less likely to be awarded the MFS scholarship.

Q: May I apply for this scholarship in connection with a project I completed a year ago?

A: Yes as long as it is fresh in the minds of your letter-writers.

Q: May I apply for a project that I worked on as a member of a team?

A: Yes but make sure you specify exactly what your role was on the team, and make sure that your letter-writers confirm what your role was. If you led the team or came up with the idea for the project, you are more likely to be recognized for what you did than if you were just a member of the team working on it.

Q: Am I likely to win if I started a club that is a local chapter of a national organization at my school or in my community?

A. Probably not. Just starting a local branch of a national organization would not ordinarily fit the scholarship's criteria for innovation and creativity.

Q: Can I apply if I've creatively solved a problem faced by my family, rather than by my school or community?

A: Yes. That is fine. Just explain clearly what the problem was and how you solved it.

Q: If my grades aren't great should I forget about applying?

A: No. This scholarship is not tied to academic achievement. It is given for what you have accomplished in areas that may or may not correlate with getting good grades.

Q: What if I don't know what college I want to go to yet?

A: That's OK. We make the awards based on what you have done, and wait to find out where you decide to go to school before sending the check to your college registrar.

Q: If I am applying for the scholarship based on art that I have done, may I submit photos of my art?

A: Scans of artwork and other digital files, of music, or youtube videos may be attached an email to Jermell Smart,, or you may include 8 copies of these items with your application.

Q: If my project comes across more clearly with video or audio materials, may I submit those?

A: Yes. We prefer materials in a form that is easy to circulate via email, however. If you have them on a web site and can provide a link, that would be best.

Q: What if I don't go to college right after high school, but take some time off?

A: That's fine. Just let us know where and when you will be entering college and the scholarship will follow you.

Q: If I'm already getting financial aid, and I win this scholarship, will my financial aid be reduced by the amount of the scholarship?

A. That is not supposed to happen, and we warn your college not to do that when we send the check. If they do that anyway, let us know.

Q: What happens if I take time off from college? Do I lose the scholarship?

A: No. You do not get any funds when you take time off, but the scholarship can resume when you return to school.

Q: How do I prove that I am still a student in good standing each year?

A: You provide the Community Foundation of Greater New Haven with an official transcript.

Q: I applied for this once before and was turned down. May I apply again?

A: Yes. As long as you are still eligible.

Q: Why should high school juniors apply for this scholarship?

A: It can help you in your college applications.

Q: What happens if I transfer from one college to another?

A: The scholarship follows you. Just let us know and provide evidence that you are a full-time student in good standing at your new college.

Q: If I take more than four years to get my degree, may I get the scholarship extended?

A: No.

Q: May I use the scholarship for books and school supplies?

A: The scholarship may be used to support only tuition, room and board (unless your college's financial aid office has a process for allowing financial aid to cover books purchased at the college bookstore, in which case you may use it for that, as well).

Q. How is the amount of the award determined?

A. The judges evaluate the amounts to be awarded to each winner on a case-by-case basis.

Q. If I created a walk for a project that has never been done before, can that be considered?

The focus of this award is originality and innovation. It is unlikely that a scholarship would be given to an applicant who simply applied a familiar and often-used fundraising strategy such as a "walk for" to a cause for which it had not previously been used.

Q. I created a new magazine. Do I need to send 8 copies of it?

A. If you have a digital version of it, you may send it attached an email to Jermell Smart,, otherwise please send 8 copies of it with your application.

Q. I have a video of the project, do I need to send 8 DVDs?

A. If you have a digital version of it, you may send it attached an email to Jermell Smart,, otherwise please send 8 copies of it with your application.

Q. May I apply a second time if I do not get an award, or if I get only an honorable mention?

A. Only if your second application is for a different project.

Q: May I spread the amount of the scholarship over the four years in a manner that is not four equal payments?

A: You may not get more than $5000 your first year. If you prefer to defer the scholarship for your first year until your second year (due to your financial aid package), you may receive two years' worth of payments in your second year. You may always defer a payment, but may not get a payment in advance.

Q: What if I get stuck on my application...and have questions about how best to write up my project? What if I have a hard time writing the essays? My parents are not fluent in English so they cannot help me go over my application.

A: We have volunteer mentors whom you can contact for encouragement or specific assistance. Please email or call us and we will find someone who can give you some help. We have help available.

Q: What does winning the Milton Fisher Scholarship require me to do?

A: Your job is to continue being an innovative and creative person in whatever path you choose. In addition, we welcome (but do not require) your assistance in recruiting future applicants for the scholarship.

Q: Who was Milton Fisher?

A: Milton Fisher was born and educated in New York City and made his home in Connecticut from 1960 until his death in 2001. He was an attorney and an investment banker who also taught a unique course for adults called "Applied Creativity" for over 25 years. The popular class focused less on creativity as expressed in the arts (as it is often understood), and more on helping people be more creative in all aspects of their lives, developing creative problem-solving skills and innovative approaches to challenges that they faced individually, or that faced their community. His deep interest in the roots of creativity, and the many the exercises he developed to help people become more innovative and creative in their lives, also led him to write the book Intuition: How to Use it in your Life, which has been translated into Chinese, Portuguese, and several other languages. He was also a world-class matchmaker (something he did for the joy of it--never for money) who was profiled in US magazine for his skill at intuitively bringing together so many couples who embarked on happy marriages as a result. (He wrote about his experiences as a matchmaker in his book, Haven't You Been Single Long Enough? ) He served on the boards of several public companies, and wrote two books about Wall Street. He was known for his irrepressible sense of humor, his brilliant insights into people and their problems, and his zest for making the world better in both small ways and large.

Q: Why was this scholarship created?

A: It was created to foster the kind of creativity that Milton Fisher valued and nurtured in everyone around him, and to encourage young people to come up with innovative solutions to problems faced by their families, schools, and communities.

Q: What happens after the April due date? When can students expect feedback, or notification?

A: The applications are prepared for committee review and read carefully. In August, that committee convenes to discuss and determine winners. Applicants will be notified of decisions by the end of August.

Q: Can the scholarship be used for a vocational or technical school?

A: Yes.

Q: Can the scholarship be used for a two-year school and then transferred to a 4-year school?

A: Yes.

Q: Can the scholarship be used for an online program?

A: No.