The Otto Bremer Foundation today awarded the first grants to fund the Finish Line Scholarship Program within the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system. The program, announced in May, will provide up to $4 million in scholarships over two years to select MnSCU colleges located in or near Bremer Bank communities.
The first round included a $200,000 grant to Normandale Community College, which was part of $1.9 million in grants awarded to 10 MnSCU institutions to support the development or expansion of scholarship programs and student services to improve students' semester-to-semester persistence and on-time completion of certificate and degree programs.
"We are extremely honored and excited to be chosen to receive a Finish Line Scholarship Grant Program through the Otto Bremer Foundation," said Joyce Ester, President of Normandale Community College. "This funding will allow us to provide additional support to those students nearing completion of an Associate's degree who have either stopped out or are at risk of stopping out for financial reasons."
The Finish Line Scholarship Program is targeted at underrepresented students who face financial, academic and other struggles as they try to realize their educational goals, and includes students of color, low-income students and those whose parents did not attend college.
"We were impressed with the quality and creativity of the proposals we received from the eligible MnSCU institutions," said Charlotte Johnson, Otto Bremer Foundation Co-CEO and Trustee. "Many of the proposals clearly identified student groups who need financial help, but many also provided unique support measures that will help students succeed. These supports can help students reach their goal of completing their degree or certificate."
Grants were awarded following a Request for Proposal process in which eligible MnSCU community and technical colleges applied. Funded proposals reflected insights learned from existing successful scholarship programs at the institutions and other programs they have instituted that have helped students successfully complete school.
"The colleges selected by the Otto Bremer Foundation have developed highly creative initiatives to help more students than ever before cross the higher education finish line," said Steven Rosenstone, chancellor of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. "Faculty and staff on our campuses will build on the strength of existing programs to reach out to eligible students, provide them with intensive support from advisors and peers and move them from access to college to success in college. Nothing is more central to the mission of our public colleges than that, and we are grateful to the Otto Bremer Foundation for their generous support of the role we play in securing Minnesota's prosperity."
"We see great potential with this program, especially after seeing the variety of applications," said Daniel Reardon, Otto Bremer Foundation Co-CEO and Trustee. "Over the past ten years the Otto Bremer Foundation has provided more than $24 million in grants for community and technical colleges and for workforce development in Minnesota."
The Otto Bremer Foundation will work with schools to develop an evaluation model to measure how well the scholarship recipients are doing and what can be learned from the focused attention these students will be receiving.
About the Otto Bremer Foundation
Created in 1944, the Otto Bremer Foundation, based in St. Paul, assists people in achieving full economic, civic and social participation in and for the betterment of their communities. This mission is based on the intent of founder Otto Bremer, a German immigrant and successful banker who was a dedicated community leader involved in civic, financial and corporate life. His vision and longstanding commitment to communities during and after the Great Depression are carried forward today through the Foundation's work in the places that are homes and neighbors to Bremer Banks. The Foundation strives to help build healthy, vibrant communities-communities where basic needs are met, mutual regard is prized and opportunities for economic, civic and social participation are within everyone's reach.
The Otto Bremer Foundation owns 92 percent of Bremer Bank and receives an equivalent share of the bank profits that are paid out as dividends. This means that a large portion of bank profit is invested back in local communities through grants and program-related investments.
In 2013, the Foundation provided approximately $38 million in grants and program-related investments to more than 700 organizations in Bremer Bank communities in Minnesota, North Dakota and western Wisconsin.