While they were unable to hold their annual scholarship awards banquet this year, Fergus Falls Area Dollars for Scholars still awarded $65,000 in scholarships to 58 local students seeking higher education.
Dollars for Scholars is a nonprofit organization that helps support local students and encourages them to pursue higher levels of educational achievement. “While continuing education after high school is not for every student, for those who do continue, postsecondary education can provide the student with a lot of benefits,” says Nancy Hess, executive director of Fergus Falls Area Dollars for Scholars.
“It can open up people’s world view, it can provide opportunities for young people to meet new people who have not necessarily been in their ‘bubble,’ it also can provide skills that will assist young people with employment and leadership opportunities,” she says. “So if new high school graduates have the interest, academic skills and desire for a postsecondary education, we are so delighted to assist them with monetary resources.”
Fergus Falls Area Dollars for Scholars has 80 named scholarships with three of them being renewable. This year they added two new scholarships: the Audrey and Dennis Emmens Scholarship, awarded to a student going into law or business, and the Brent and Laurel Nelson Scholarship, awarded to a student entering a two-year trade or technical education including mechanical, parts, collision, sales or business development and is given to the recipient for both years he or she attends school.
The Emmens moved to Fergus Falls in 1964 and consider Fergus Falls an undiscovered gem. They founded the Audrey and Dennis Emmens Scholarship to support local students who are going into law or business, since they graduated with degrees in law and accounting. This year, the inaugural recipient is Lily Reinhardt.
The Nelsons are best known as the owners of Nelson Auto Center in Fergus Falls and they established the Brent and Laurel Nelson Scholarship to encourage graduates to consider entering the automotive field. “As owners of Nelson Auto Center, they recognize the need for more trained individuals to work in this industry,” said Hess. The first recipient of this scholarship is Jacob Schroeder.
The money for scholarships comes from the generosity of donors. “All donations are tax deductible and invested in our endowment funds. We use the interest from the endowment to fund our scholarships,” says Hess. “There are opportunities for people to create named scholarships at three levels which determine the amount of the scholarship given annually. Because we fund our scholarships with the interest earned, we can continue to give these named scholarships year after year. We are equipped to receive legacy gifts as well. All donations, of any amount are used for scholarships.”
The Fergus Falls Area Dollars for Scholars chapter began in 1991, with five scholarships given out in 1992. “Over the course of 28 years we have given $989,000 in scholarships to 1,209 students,” says Hess. “The people who get involved with Dollars for Scholars, whether it is through volunteering or financial support, I believe, feel strongly that it is important for students to pursue a postsecondary education.”