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Blandin Foundation Scholarship applications available

GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. – Applications for Blandin Foundation’s scholarships are available and being accepted until May 1.

The scholarships provide Itasca area students $1,000 to $5,000 per student for the 2022-2023 school year. Students may reapply each year, until they are age 25 or have earned up to a bachelor’s degree.

The scholarship program is the longest-running program of the Blandin Foundation, with the first awards given in 1956 by founder Charles K. Blandin. Since then, nearly 20,000 area youth have received scholarships totaling more than $30 million. More than $1.15 million in scholarships will be awarded for the 2022-23 school year.

“Like Mr. Blandin did when he first awarded scholarships in 1956, this program continues its focus on supporting our young people – tomorrow’s workforce – as they set their course toward not just their futures but the role they play in the future of our region,” said Tuleah Palmer, Blandin Foundation president and CEO.

Itasca County, like other regions across the country, is facing critical future workforce needs. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development reports the county has lost an average of 93 workers per year since 2010, and projects this trend will continue through 2033, as the “baby boom” generation exits the workforce. The county faces also an extremely tight labor force – with the number of jobseekers per vacant position declining from 2.7 to 0.6 between 2011 and 2021. This means jobs in key areas like health care, food preparation, sales, transportation and more are going unfilled.

“Blandin Foundation is aware of the critical need for a strong rural workforce — be it trades or health care or communication,” said Palmer. “We believe our communities are at a critical point in history to prepare the workforce with the skills and knowledge for the jobs of today and tomorrow. We need to get all hands on deck.”

In 2022, the Blandin Foundation Scholarship program will deepen its connections with organizations that support youth considering school after high school. Two new staff will oversee this work.

Jen Alger has been hired as scholarship outreach coordinator. She will work with area school and after-school programs to share information about scholarships, and will build partnerships to expand the reach of the scholarship program.

Jenna Ihle serves as scholarship data specialist. She will process applications, oversee distribution of scholarship awards each semester, and track key metrics for assessment and program improvement.

“We want young adults, especially those with more barriers, to have as much support as possible for promising futures,” said Sonja Merrild, Blandin Foundation grants director.  “We believe a strong workforce is key to strong communities, and we redesigned the scholarship program to have two dedicated positions focused specifically on connecting students, families, and caring adults with resources that increase positive experiences with post-secondary options and increase post-secondary completion rates.”

Who is eligible and how to apply

Scholarships are available to local students who will graduate, or have graduated, from: Bigfork, Blackduck, Bug-O-Nay-Ge-Shig, Deer River, Grand Rapids, Greenway, Hill City, Nashwauk-Keewatin, Northern Lights Community School, Northome and Remer. Home-schooled and online students who would have attended any of these schools also are eligible.

To be eligible, students must be under age 25 as of September 1, 2022, and registered as a full-time student (12 credits per semester) at any accredited school in the United States. This can include trade schools, certificate programs, community, technical and tribal colleges, as well as four-year colleges and universities. Graduate and doctoral students are not eligible. Part-time students also are eligible, though awards may be adjusted.

Blandin Foundation selects scholarships recipients based on family adjusted gross income (AGI) less than $125,000 and who demonstrate the greatest unmet financial need as calculated by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The Foundation also considers other factors, such as total cost of attendance (tuition, fees, room and board, books and supplies, transportation and miscellaneous expenses), family income, and number of siblings also attending college.

Applications are being accepted only online, and are available on the Foundation’s website: http://blandin-staging.bicycletheory.net/scholarships.  Call 218-326-0523, or 1-877-882-2257, or email scholarships@blandin-staging.bicycletheory.net with questions. Deadline to submit an application is May 1, 2022.

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