Elks Scholar Lifts Students through Peerlift

With the butterflies that fill every high school senior preparing for the college years comes the dread of combing through thousands of scholarships to find the ones for you. Sam Gorman, a 2017 Most Valuable Student scholar, attended a Los Angeles high school with more than 3,000 students. It wasn’t easy getting guidance from counselors, so Sam took matters into his own hands to help himself, and his peers.

In the summer of 2016, Sam created a 28-page booklet called Peerlift that listed scholarships he had found. Today, that booklet has been turned into a website entirely run by recent high school graduates. Peerlift provides a curated list of 350 scholarship opportunities aimed toward low- and middle-income students who, like Sam, can’t afford a full tuition.

“No matter how far we grow, Peerlift came from a deep personal need to bridge an opportunity gap, and it is what inspires me each day to grow our impact even further,” Sam says.

In addition to listing tuition scholarships for students, Peerlift aligns users with summer opportunities that could boost their college applications.

“I saw how connected these two areas were and started thinking of way to streamline this opportunities search,” Sam says.

During his web search for scholarships, Sam stumbled upon the Most Valuable Student scholarship offered by the Elks National Foundation. In addition to the other numerous awards Sam received, the MVS scholarship has allowed him to focus on his studies at Stanford University instead of how to pay for tuition.

“I’m extremely fortunate to be in a position from my scholarships and financial aid that college tuition does not present a burden for my family,” Sam says. “I know I must work and improve myself each day to validate that investment in me.”

Sam is well on his way to validating the investments that have been made in him and his education. Peerlift is building traction as a go-to for high school and college students in their endless endeavor to find scholarships. Since it started running in the summer of 2017, Peerlift has already made a major impact on tens of thousands of students like Alexess Sosa.

“Last year, through some of the programs mentioned in Peerlift's booklet, I was able to attend a summer program at Princeton University,” Sosa says. “I was assigned a counselor who also helped me get almost a full ride to Stanford University.”

Students can be directed to the MVS scholarship on Peerlift, which is a surreal feeling for Sam considering he found, applied for, and received the scholarship in 2017. Coincidentally, Sam began a friendship with the top recipient of the MVS scholarship from the same year, Colin Norick, during a philosophy class at Stanford.

“He went out of his way to connect Peerlift to the ENF team, and that sort of selfless behavior is exactly the type of interaction I’ve seen time and time again from fellow Elks scholars,” Sam says.

As Peerlift continues to grow through social media and college partnerships, Sam says he envisions the site encompassing other facets to prepare students for higher education such as mentorship programs, and events at high schools and student conferences. Sam has already accomplished so much, and we’re excited to see what’s ahead.

If you or anyone you know is looking for college scholarships, be sure to check out the Peerlift website here. Peerlift wants to help students find a life-changing opportunity in 30 seconds, and its website allows them to do just that.

For 2017-18, the Elks National Foundation allocated $2.89 million to fund the Most Valuable Student scholarship program, which includes 500 four-year scholarships ranging from $4,000 to $50,000. For more information about the Most Valuable Student scholarship program, including eligibility and deadlines, visit enf.elks.org/MVS.

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