Dollars for Scholars expands program

Officials for Shawano Dollars for Scholars on Wednesday announced three new scholarship programs, thanks to a substantial donation it received last year.

The foundation, which had built its endowment to more than $1 million over its 19-year existence, last spring received approximately $7.5 million from the estate of the late Judge Michael and Joanne Eberlein.

Judge Eberlein passed away in 2002, and Joanne Eberlein passed away in September 2010 at the age of 93.

The additional funds will enable the foundation to fund three more scholarship programs, including one for private- or home-school students and another for vocational-technical school students.

"We hope this creates enough excitement that people will continue to want to donate and perhaps up their donation level, so that we can provide a college or post-secondary education to every student for the entirety of their education," Dollars for Scholars President Dan Labby said.

This spring will mark Shawano Dollars for Scholars 20th year awarding scholarships, and the organization expects to award $370,000 to area students.

The foundation is perhaps best known for its Shawano Community High School scholarship program.

"Any graduating Shawano (Community) High School senior who applies gets a scholarship," said Dr. Derek Johnson, scholarship chair. "If you just applied last year, you got $1,000 and this year it will probably be $1,500 to $2,000, just for applying."

Additional funds and scholarships are awarded based on merit, including criteria such as academics, leadership and volunteer activities, and financial need.

The new scholarship for private- and home-school students is available for students 19 or younger who have resided within the Shawano School District for the most recent three years and meet state requirements for graduation.

"We anticipate that 10 to 12 scholarships of approximately $1,500 each will be awarded to this group of students this and the coming years," Johnson said.

The new Judge Eberlein Second Chance Scholarship is available for students seeking to improve their employment through vocational, technical and two-year programs. Applicants do not have to be graduates of SCHS, but must have resided within the school district for the most recent three years.

"It's geared for young adults who may not have graduated from high school and have not previously been enrolled in an institution of higher learning, but have completed their equivalency exam and now are seeking a technical degree in pursuit of a career to improve their lives," Johnson said. "We hope that Judge Eberlein would be appreciative of our efforts to follow his example by giving these students a second chance."

Also new this year, the Continuing Education Scholarship is an opportunity for students enrolled in an accredited institution of higher learning to apply for aid in continuing their undergraduate education. Applicants have to be graduates of Shawano Community High School or a home-school program within the Shawano School District.

Johnson said organizers anticipate giving out 50 to 60 continuing education scholarships of $1,000 to $1,500 each.

Dollars for Scholars also will continue to offer New Vision scholarships, for up to $1,500 each, to adults 25 or older who had not entered or completed a degree program following graduation from high school. Two scholarships are given out in this category each year.

Labby said the need for scholarships continues to grow, as does community support for Dollars for Scholars.

"With annual jumps in the UW system of close to double digits for tuition alone, we need to, as a group, help prepare for the future," Labby said. "Before the Eberleins, we had eclipsed a million dollars through small donations and ongoing benefactors. ... It is truly a community effort to raise funds for our children."

By Tiffany Wilbert
Group expects $370K in 2012 scholarships
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