Improving Public Schools through Research, Resources and Responsibility

MSBA FutureBuilders Scholarships and Awards

John T. Belcher Scholarship Award – OPEN NOW

MSBA FutureBuilders established the scholarship program in memory of John T. Belcher, who was instrumental in developing innovative financing programs for Missouri school districts. The learning environment for thousands of Missouri’s public school students improved as a result of his work.

A $1000 annual scholarship is awarded to a student in each of MSBA’s 17 regions. Applicants are judged on the basis of academic performance, extracurricular activities and the quality of an essay. A statewide winner is selected from this group of regional winners and awarded an additional $1500. Scroll below to read the essays from each region.

How can a student apply for a Belcher scholarship?

The school board of each MSBA member district is eligible to nominate one high school senior to apply. The local board of education should select their applicant based on academic achievement and leadership abilities; need may also be considered. After the district applicant is chosen the student/guidance office should contact Matt O’brien for a link to the online application and form during the application period, October 10, 2017 – January 12, 2018. The applicant and their guidance counselor will receive confirmation and further instructions within two working days of submission. The student will need to obtain a transcript and complete the essay, if not already done.

This application and Checklist is for Step 1 of the selection process. It is intended to be used so that each member district of MSBA will have aid in selecting one candidate. Once the district selects their candidate, please contact Matt O’Brien to gain access to the online fillable application.

Application (MS Word)

Application (PDF)

Checklist (PDF)

For questions contact:
Matt O’Brien
573.445.9920 ext. 347

Early Childhood LogoEarly Childhood Education Program of the Year Award

The Early Childhood Education Program of the Year Award recognizes outstanding early childhood education programs in Missouri. We want to celebrate YOU and your efforts in providing early childhood education, regardless of school size.
NEW THIS YEAR:  We are asking the finalist districts to produce a ten minute video presentation for their session at Annual Conference.  If a district finalist does not have the means to create such a program, MSBA may offer to assist as part of our Good News in Public Schools effort.   Applications will be accepted from February 2, 2018 through April 2, 2018
Contact: Colleen Mahon,

Past Winners

FutureBuilders Early Childhood Education Program of the Year Finalists 

2016: 1st – Springfield Public Schools;  2nd – Mehlville R-IX;  3rd – Raytown C-2

2015: 1st – Northwest R-I;  2nd – Jefferson City Public Schools;  3rd – Ozark R-VI

2014: 1st – Belton 124;  2nd – Mehlville;  3rd – Ava R-I

2013: 1st – Nixa Public Schools;  2nd – Jefferson City Public Schools;  3rd – Kirksville R- III

2012: 1st – Pattonville R-III;  2nd – Nixa Public Schools;  3rd – Park Hill

2011: 1st – Francis Howell R-III;  2nd – Lee’s Summit R-VIII;  3rd – Belton 124

2010: 1st – Webster Groves;  2nd – Maplewood-Richmond Heights;  3rd – Nixa Public Schools


Paul Morris AwardPaul Morris Community Service Award

The Paul Morris Community Service Award was established by MSBA FutureBuilders to honor the memory of Paul Morris, a school board member from Mt. Vernon, who was serving as President of MSBA when he passed away on February 2, 2009. Paul devoted countless hours strengthening his community and improving its schools through his volunteer work. In addition to numerous community awards, he had served on the Mt. Vernon R-V Board of Education for nearly nine years and on MSBA’s Board of Directors for four years.

MSBA FutureBuilders receives nominations of current or past public school board members from Missouri who have shown a commitment to community service. Finalists are selected from statewide nominations with one individual selected as the overall statewide winner. The statewide winner receives a $1000 individual award.

Past Winners of the Paul Morris Award

2009 – John Holcomb, Trenton R-IX

2010 – Roy Burnside, Festus R-VI

2011 – Ann Gibbons, Hazelwood

2012 – Roseann Bentley, Springfield R-XII

2013 – Robin Krause, Knob Noster R-VIII

2014 – Dave Green, Malden R-I

2015 – Jill Esry, Independence

2016 – Gerry Lee, Springfield Public Schools

2017 – Lisa Knutzen, Carl Junction

MSBA FutureBuilders Golf Tournament

Proceeds from the participation and generosity of players and sponsors help fund the MSBA’s FutureBuilders Foundation. FutureBuilders provides 18 annual John T. Belcher Memorial Scholarships which are awarded to high school seniors from all areas of Missouri, helping our future leaders achieve their dream of a college education. FutureBuilders also supports and promotes the importance of adult community leadership and early childhood education.

Golf Tournament Details
For more information about the golf tournament, contact Todd Smith 573-445-9920 ext. 310,

Message from the CEO

Melissa Randol, Chief Executive Officer

Melissa Randol, Chief Executive Officer

Thank you for visiting the FutureBuilders website. As the non-profit education foundation of the Missouri School Boards’ Association it is our goal to celebrate the successes of our public schools and to recognize the achievements of both students and school leaders.

We believe that public education is the foundation of our democracy and that it is imperative that we counter the negative stereotyping of public schools so often expounded by the media and so-called “experts.”

Although FutureBuilders has been in existence for two decades, under the presidency of Paul Morris, MSBA began making a concentrated effort to enhance the activities and the visibility of the foundation. Paul’s sudden passing in February of 2009 provided additional impetus and a renewed commitment on the part of the FutureBuilders board of directors to ensure that this vision is fulfilled. In the days ahead MSBA FutureBuilders will continue working to spread the news about the good things going on day in and day out in Missouri’s public schools. Our unofficial motto is “Research, not rhetoric” and we plan to use that as our model as we help tell the true story of the successes of our public schools.


Colleen Mahon
Phone: 573-445-9920, ext. 340


2017 John Belcher Scholarship Essays

Students were asked to submit an essay to the following question:

Looking back over your high school career, what would your message
to your School Board be on improving the education of those who follow you?


Emerson Cochran, Winner of the Region 9 Belcher Scholarship

One struggle that I personally have faced these past few years is choosing a career path. This is often a self-initiated pursuit; however, I think it would be beneficial to everyone if our school offered more career exploration opportunities.

Emerson Cochran

Carthage School District, Region 9

Madison Straatmann Winner of the Region 12 Belcher Scholarship

Learning and gaining knowledge is such an exciting thing, a blessing that we are fortunate to have…students must feel like the classes that require hours of homework and late night study sessions are worth the time and effort.

Madison Straatmann

Washington School District, Region 12