For those managing a scholarship program, finding the right scholarship management solution can be daunting. In 2000, the Annexstad Family Foundation set out to support bright minds and future leaders. Initially, they began their program using tools like Excel and Access to track their process. Over time, they found that they needed to find a solution that would allow them to gather meaningful insights while facilitating lifelong connections that would go beyond the initial application process. To do this, they decided to enlist Kaleidoscope. 


Al and Cathy Annexstad have lived the American Dream and deeply desire that others are able to do the same, especially those who, like themselves, have endured special challenges in their youth.

Al and Cathy grew up in neighboring communities in southern Minnesota. They both lost parents to untimely deaths, events that have shaped their lives. Like many other young people who lost parents, they found themselves depending on their values and resourcefulness to ask for help in their communities to navigate life’s many challenges. With a single mother working in a local college’s cafeteria, Al saw students from his hometown graduate with a bachelor’s degree and make an impact in his greater community and throughout the state of Minnesota.

Working multiple jobs, Al was able to put himself through college. Upon graduation, he began a career as a door-to-door Sales Representative with the Federated Insurance Companies. Due to his grit, determination, and hard work he was eventually named Chairman, President, and CEO of the company.

Deeply appreciative of their many blessings, in 2000 they established the Annexstad Family Foundation for the purpose of providing college scholarships to bright young people who, like themselves, have overcome extraordinary challenges in life.


The Annexstad Family Foundation partners with colleges and universities all over the United States to select students that they believe could be a good fit for their scholarship programs. Students for their programs are named by their academic partners, then they are reviewed by their leadership team.

The Annexstad team had been using a paper nomination process that would be physically or electronically delivered to their office. They then tracked the applications in Excel and Microsoft Access. This did not enable them to have the real-time data they desired to track student success and donation impact. They wanted an easier way to track the application process and maintain insights the whole way through.

In 2020, the Foundation decided to make a shift. Their team and programs continued to grow and they needed better systems to be able to see insights from anywhere at any time. With more scholars to support, a bigger staff, and a bigger network of partners selecting the best candidates, they needed to find a solution that would allow them to have more control over their process with more access to their data.

“With minimal actionable insights we weren’t able to track where each applicant was in the process,” said Patti Annexstad, CFO at Annexstad Family Foundation. “Since 2012, we have partnered with a number of top-tier colleges and universities to select students to support. For this reason, we needed to be able to maintain a better system to track the scholar journey.”


After some research, the Annexstad team connected with Kaleidoscope because the platform could design, administer, and host the scholarship while providing insights into their applicants. With greater insights, they were able to gain a 360-degree view into their program and better track the impact of their giving.

With the platform, they were able to integrate application process data directly into Salesforce. This allowed them not only the ability to have improved data into their program, but also allowed them to streamline communications and nurture relationships with the scholars they support.

By nurturing the connections with their scholars, they were able to turn the relationship into much more than a fiscal investment. Similar to their scholarship programs, they also facilitate their mentorship programs through Kaleidoscope. This allows their network of scholars and mentors to remain connected and form connections for a lifetime.

After their inaugural season with Kaleidoscope, they set forth to give over $4M in recurring and new awards. They went live on Kaleidoscope with their first scholarship season in January of 2021.


During their first scholarship season with Kaleidoscope, The Annexstad Family Foundation supported 103 new applicants and gave out over $800,000 in new scholarships. They also gave over $3M in recurring awards.

With Kaleidoscope, they were able to manage their entire application process and gain critical insights into their programs. They were also able to nurture relationships with their scholars through the platform’s expansive relationship management tools.

“Moving to the Kaleidoscope platform allowed our team to take our program to the next level. Being able to see real information about where our scholars are at in the process has made it easier, for our team and our partners,” commented Patti Annexstad, CFO at The Annexstad Family Foundation.

What’s Next?

Moving into their next season with Kaleidoscope, the Annexstad team has been able to evaluate previous season data and recommendations to drive continuous improvement. With the help of the Kaleidoscope Implementation Team, the Annexstad team is driving these actions into configurations for their upcoming season.

Since the close of their first incredibly successful season, the support The Annexstad Family Foundation continues to drive remains high. They continue to support a growing number of scholars every year. The Foundation has awarded more than $24M in scholarships since 2000 and continues to facilitate lifelong connections through their mentorship program.

If you’d like to learn how you can move your scholarship programs off of spreadsheets and foster long-lasting connections to your scholars, we’d love to hear from you.

To learn more about The Annexstad Family Foundation, visit their website here:

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