By Jayne Gibson
Executive Director Austin Aspires
By 2020, an estimated two-thirds of job openings will require postsecondary education or training, according to some reports. Previous graduates of high schools in Austin may have found obtaining postsecondary education or training to be financially challenging or even cost prohibitive. Earlier this year, the Hormel Foundation announced The Austin Assurance Scholarship program, removing financial barriers for many of this spring’s graduates.
This generous donation provides eligible Austin and Pacelli High Schools’ graduates the opportunity to attend any Riverland Community College campus for little to no cost. The Foundation, along with a team of educators representing Austin Public Schools, Pacelli Catholic Schools and Riverland Community College worked diligently to define the scholarship criteria. The criterion was developed in a manner to ensure every student that demonstrates desire and readiness for higher education will have access to this program.
The main qualifiers for this scholarship include: students must successfully graduate from one of the high schools located in Austin, they must live in Austin, and they must complete a number of community volunteer hours. The scholarship can be used at any of the Riverland Community College campuses, including Austin, Albert Lea and Owatonna. Local ninth through 12th graders recently learned the details of the program in an assembly held at their school. With the assistance of high school and college staff, 12th graders completed the scholarship application, even if they weren’t sure their path was going to take them to Riverland immediately after graduation. Qualifying students have up to five years to use the scholarship in some circumstances.
This scholarship program is not only great for the scholarly recipients; it is a big win for our community. Recruiting managers and human resource departments can share information about this unique scholarship program when working with candidates outside of our community to fill unfilled job openings. Community employers can work directly with Riverland to train and recruit their future work force needs through this program. Non-profit and service organizations will benefit from providing students an opportunity to grow through volunteerism.
Would you like to learn more about this scholarship? Additional information can be found on the web site at https://austinassurance.org.