Funding the future

Dominic Aguilar receives the Eagles Aerie #2339 Scholarship with congratulations from Fergus Falls Area Dollars for Scholars Executive Director Nancy Eldredge Hess at Wednesday’s award ceremony. 

Dollars for Scholars surpassed the $1 million mark for scholarships awarded in Fergus Falls and the surrounding areas Wednesday. The Fergus Falls Area Dollars for Scholars has been serving the community for nearly three decades. 

“We’ve been looking forward to this milestone — and this day — for many months,” said Executive Director Nancy Eldredge Hess. “Reaching the $1 million mark is a testament to our community’s giving spirit and our shared desire to invest in the future.” 

To date, the local Dollars for Scholars chapter has awarded more than 1,340 students with scholarships in support of their personal education goals, a tremendous accomplishment for the community. 

Established in 1991 with contributions and encouragement from alumni and area businesses, the chapter issued its first five scholarships in 1992, totaling $500 each. Awards have been granted each year since. An average of $65,000 and 65 scholarships are awarded annually. 

“Lessening the financial burden of college education is important,” said Michelle Eldien, chair of the chapter’s board of directors. “But what excites me is thinking about the collective impact these educations will provide the students and, in turn, their communities. It’s truly priceless.”

The first Fergus Falls Area Dollars for Scholars members of the initial board of directors envisioned raising $544,000 to establish a foundation to fund scholarships. Foundation assets now exceed $1.9 million thanks to the generosity of community members, businesses and organizations. Generous donations through memorials, gifts in honor of family and friends, and charitable giving enable the scholarships to be awarded each year. As a nonprofit donations are tax deductible. 

“We’re grateful for every dollar donated, and we’ll continue to make contributions grow to benefit the youth of Fergus Falls,” said Eldien.

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