Mith & Lisa Niles have committed to providing scholarships to outstanding seniors.
Today, the Niles Family Evergreen Scholarship for Musicianship, Collaboration and Service along with the Niles Family Evergreen Scholarship for Unsung Contribution have become the largest non-affiliated scholarships awarded to young musicians on the west coast. In addition, the personal values required of each recipient also sets these scholarships apart.
The Niles Family Evergreen Scholarships offer a unique opportunity to the members of the Evergreen Philharmonic in that they give the orchestra a chance to recognize the attributes of their peers. Recipients have gone on to use these scholarships throughout college and as they pursued their careers.
Please see below to read the story of how Mith and Lisa (Mr. and Mrs. Niles) were moved to create such a powerful scholarship program, as well as scholarship details and application requirements.
About the Scholarship Program
The Niles Family have committed an aggregate amount of $2,500+ to be allocated by them at their discretion each year into separate awards for distinct scholarships. Each year they explore new ideas with these scholarships and may shift away from past ones while introducing new ones … see below for details.
Historically, these scholarships have been allocated in amounts ranging from $250-2000.
Niles Scholarship – Letter from Mith and Lisa
Saturday, June 25th, 2005 was a typical 96 degree summer day in New England, arguably not the greatest weather for a wedding, and certainly not the greatest weather for musicians to perform.
But there they were, as luck would have it. The Evergreen Philharmonic would be arriving from Seattle on a red-eye flight for a performance in Boston that week. Conductor Doug Longman asked if he might provide us with an augmented string quartet for our wedding that same day. We of course accepted with great enthusiasm. Unfortunately, their flight landed late and therefore minimized any time for them to rest that morning. Still, they came with smiles on their faces, instruments in tow, and proceeded to set-up in the only space the non-air-conditioned chapel would allow for – which just happened to be the sunniest spot in the sanctuary!
Yet they played. These young adults made a decision to share their gifts with a thankful bride and groom and an awed congregation literally “a coast away”. The music that emanated from those instruments that day helped set the tone for what would be a ceremony filled with music and joy, love and laughter, faith and tears. The sound was simply glorious, one that we can still recall to this day, and one that I, as a musician, particularly appreciated.
In a time where much is often written and said about what is wrong with young adults in America, we wanted to honor what is right. Musicianship, camaraderie and charity – all of which we witnessed in spectacular form – should be encouraged and honored. So, it is with great pleasure and pride that we have endowed Washington’s Evergreen Philharmonic Orchestra with the Niles Family Evergreen Scholarships. Our hope is that these annual scholarships presented to graduating seniors will serve as a symbol of our commitment to an orchestra that committed to us years ago.
We encourage students and parents alike to explore the associated pages containing descriptions and criteria regarding the scholarships, as well groundbreaking music industry internships (based on availability) that have been tied to the scholarships. We look forward to continuing to develop and inspire a transformational approach to supporting music in the schools, through our ongoing collaboration with this wonderful group!
– Mith Niles & Lisa Niles
Niles Scholarship – Musicianship, Collaboration & Service
Musicianship, camaraderie and charity – all of which we witnessed in spectacular form when an augmented string quartet from Evergreen shared their gifts with us on our wedding day – should be encouraged and honored.
The Annual Niles Family Evergreen Scholarship for Musicianship, Collaboration and Service was granted in June 2007 and remains the flagship Niles Family Evergreen Scholarship! Presented to a graduating Senior, this represents our ongoing commitment to a unique and gifted group and the principles they support.
All graduating Seniors that feel moved to apply for the scholarship are welcome. The criteria for this award is based in equal measure on the values those members of Evergreen displayed that day:
- Musicianship – Both in terms of performance and creativity
- Collaboration – The desire and willingness to work with others within the orchestra to raise the ability of fellow musicians and create an enjoyable environment
- Service – Sharing the gift of music with others in the broader community
- All Seniors are eligible.
- The written requirement for candidates is to share an essay with us answering the following question, “How have you honored your musical gift?”
- Note that in past years, the essay has been a critical factor in deciding finalists for the scholarship. As such, we encourage Applicants to take the time to craft a thoughtful essay (as past recipients have done). Our expectations are high, as they should be – given efforts of past recipients of this scholarship.
- Essays must be formally formatted (i.e. Miscrosoft Word document or comparable). Essays in email format will not be accepted.
- Essays must be one page maximum. Essays more than one page will not be accepted.
- Note that we’ve been asked the question regarding whether it’s “1 page single or double spaced”? The answer is – space however you like to get it to one page (but no less than single space and minimum 10pt font). We played that game with essays in high-school too.
- Essays must be submitted directly to the Niles Family only at email@example.com, attached to an email with the subject line “(Applicant Name) – Niles Family Evergreen Scholarship.”
- Another important part of the process has become a scholarship interview. Senior Applicants are encouraged to sign-up to meet with Mith (and possibly Lisa) for a short ”get to know you” conversation while visiting the Issaquah area in mid-May, 2017.
- Sign-up sheets with available times will be provided by Mr Longman or you may email him to request a time based on the Niles’ available schedule while visiting.
Please Note – All elements of the interview process will be decision making factors including interview attire, preparedness, professionalism, etc. This should be treated as a fun conversation, but an important one as well!
Senior applicant essays are due to the Niles Family no later than end of day Friday, April 28, 2017. No essays will be accepted after this date, but may be sent anytime beforehand – so don’t wait until the last minute!
We also encourage applying Seniors to send us a note (per the deadlines below) in support of a fellow Senior applicant, as this kind gesture is something that has happened in past scholarship processes and one that we think is a great mark of a collaborative orchestra!
Deadline for Orchestra Members to Support Senior Applicants is no later than end of day Friday, May 12th, 2017.
We feel it is an important part of the decision making process to incorporate as much direct feedback from the orchestra as possible. Our expectation and hope is that those individuals not applying (as well as applying) for the scholarship will take the time to send us an email directly (and confidentially) to firstname.lastname@example.org with whatever feedback they wish to provide. It can be as simple as:
“Hi Mith & Lisa … I think this individual would be a great choice based on the criteria for the scholarship …”
“Hi Mith & Lisa … I think this individual would be a great choice based on the criteria for the scholarship, and here are some reasons / examples as to why.”
Ideally people will support at least one person, but no more than three. Ultimately we’ll use the input from the orchestra combined with a number of other factors to select one recipient.
Please note that whatever comments are sent from the orchestra will be seen only by the Niles Family, so that individuals can speak freely and nominate individuals in confidence. Collective input will be discussed with Director Longman and The Advisory Board, but individual input will remain in the confidence of the Niles family. Feedback for the Scholarship for Musicianship, Collaboration & Service must be submitted directly to the Niles Family only at email@example.com.
Scholarship Award Review Process
- Careful discussion of an essay from each applying Senior, in conjunction with reviewing the individual’s demonstrated qualities in terms of the values highlighted above
- Mr. Longman and The Advisory Board, along with past recipients of the scholarship, will provide guidance to us regarding each applying Senior in this regard
- Each applying Senior is encouraged to attend a “get to know you” conversation with Mith & Lisa during their visit to the Issaquah area
- Perhaps the most critical component is that we provide the opportunity for (and encourage) current Evergreen Orchestra members (both non-applicants and applicants), to provide us with positive feedback / support for a candidate
Please Note – Candidates for this Scholarship are also eligible for the separate Scholarship for Unsung Contribution.
Niles Scholarship – Unsung Contribution
We issued a challenge to the local community to support the Evergreen Orchestra by matching the amount we have committed in scholarships, with proceeds raised to be used to meet the needs of the orchestra. If we as residents of California can support the orchestra, then the community in Washington can hopefully do the same to support an amazing group of local student musicians!
But we also challenged ourselves as a family to do more in supporting music at the secondary level, we are pleased to again present an additional brand new Niles Family Evergreen Scholarship for Unsung Contribution. We know there are any number of unsung contributors to greatness in an orchestra. Just because it isn’t obvious, it doesn’t mean that individuals aren’t impacting the betterment of the orchestra or the community in unique ways. We want to support that kind of commitment!
Scholarship Award Review Process
The Scholarship for Unsung Contribution decision making process is rather unique and is as follows:
- This is not a scholarship that an orchestra member can apply for. A potential recipient must be recognized by a fellow orchestra member (or members), Director Longman, a past scholarship recipient or a member of the Evergreen community.
- It will be based in large part upon nominations and recommendations from fellow orchestra members, whether via email to the Niles Family or mentioned in person when Mith & Lisa visit with the orchestra.
- Input from Mr. Longman, past scholarship recipients and from the Evergreen community will also be welcomed.
- The criteria will be purely at the discretion of the Niles Family, but will follow along the lines of “inspirational factors” including (but not limited to) musicianship, serving as a role model and/or positive impact on the orchestra, school or surrounding community.
Please Note – Senior nominees for this Scholarship are also eligible for the separate Scholarship for Musicianship, Collaboration & Service.
- This is not a scholarship that you can apply for.
- Any Senior that has been in the orchestra for a minimum of 2 years will be eligible for this scholarship, and must be recognized by a fellow orchestra member, Director Longman, a past scholarship recipient or a member of the Evergreen community.
- Nominees will be considered by the Niles Family based on any number of tangible and intangible “inspirational factors” including (but not limited to) musicianship, work ethic, kindness, generosity and/or positive impact on the orchestra, school or surrounding community.
This scholarship only happens based on nominations. Our hope is that orchestra members will take the time to send us an email directly (and confidentially) to firstname.lastname@example.org with whatever thoughts they wish to provide.
It can be as simple as:
“Hi Mith & Lisa … I think this individual would be a great choice for this scholarship, and here are some reasons / examples as to why”.
Please note that as with the Scholarship for Musicianship, Collaboration and Service, whatever comments are sent will be seen only by the Niles Family, so that individuals can speak freely and nominate individuals in confidence. Collective input will be discussed with Mr. Longman and The Advisory Board, but individual input will remain in the confidence of the Niles family.
Orchestra members may also feel free to approach Mr. or Mrs. Niles in person while in town visiting with the orchestra.