Foundation helps 118 students pack extra money for college

by Jo Lynn Bucki
Special to Sun Thisweek
Dakota County Tribune

As most of us continue to enjoy the dog days of summer, many 2013 high school graduates are preparing for their post secondary education. Whether they are attending a technical school, college, or university, 118 Eagan students are packing a little something extra from the Eagan Foundation – scholarship money.

The Eagan Foundation has grown in many ways but takes pride in the fact that in its 23-year history the scholarship program has grown from just 11 scholarships totaling $4,350 to 118 scholarships totaling $100,000 in 2013. This was the first year that more than 100 scholarships were awarded, thanks to the generous support of the Eagan community.

The 2013 Eagan Foundation scholarships awarded between $500 and $2,500 to deserving students based on many factors including GPA, academic rigor, extracurricular activities, work experience, volunteerism, and in some cases, financial need and perseverance. For most students the honor and recognition of receiving an award from the Eagan Foundation far outweighs the monetary value. Board members of the Eagan Foundation often hear that students have a sense of pride in being recognized for their hard work in high school, and gratitude for the support of the community as they pursue their goals.

The Eagan Foundation will seek to sustain $100,000 in awards annually, which will result in the foundation surpassing $1 million awarded in 2014.

“We have made great progress in our ‘Climb to One Million’ campaign,” said Michael Proebstle, Eagan Foundation Board president and scholarship chairman. “We are grateful for the Eagan Community’s ongoing support.”

Plans are underway to celebrate the one-millionth dollar awarded through the Eagan Foundation’s scholarship program in spring 2014.

The Eagan Foundation grew out of discussions in 1990 by educators and business people in Eagan interested in creating a scholarship program for graduating seniors at the newly opened Eagan High School. Since 1991, the volunteer organization has sponsored a successful scholarship program and awarded nearly $985,000 to more than 1,000 high school seniors who live and/or attend school in Eagan.

The scholarships are funded by local businesses, school organizations, family foundations, and nonprofits. The long list of scholarships include awards from athletic, art, and fine arts booster clubs, memorials, elementary schools, family foundations, several nonprofits, and many Eagan businesses. The Eagan Foundation was able to sponsor five scholarships in 2013 and plans to continue awarding its own scholarships in the years to come. Senior year students attending Eagan High School or residing in Eagan who plan to further their education at a technical school, college, or university are eligible for the scholarships administered through the Eagan Foundation. The process is surprisingly simple, as a senior student is required to submit just one application to be considered for each scholarship based on donor-specified criteria. The scholarship application becomes available on the Eagan Foundation website in January and is due at the end of February.

The Eagan Foundation seeks to make Eagan the best place to live, learn, work, and play by investing in Eagan’s future by providing community connections, grants, and scholarships. Although best known for its scholarship program, the foundation also proudly awards 10-15 community grants each year, co-sponsors a fall talent show at Eagan High School, and promotes A Taste of the Eagan Foundation – a wine tasting and silent auction fundraising event held in the spring. This year’s talent show, “Eagan has Talent” will be held Nov. 2 at Eagan High School and will feature a wide variety of local acts. Whether you have talent to showcase or enjoy watching great performances it’s a wonderful evening. Tickets go on sale this fall and can be purchased on both the Eagan Foundation and Eagan High School websites.

There are many ways to support the Eagan Foundation: monetary or service donations, sponsoring a scholarship, becoming a board member, or volunteering at local events.  It’s wonderful to be a part of an organization that brings neighbors together for the good of the community and helps high school seniors pack a little something extra as they pursue their hopes and dreams.

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Jo Lynn Bucki is a volunteer chairwoman and member of the Eagan Foundation. Columns reflect the opinion of the author.