Fundraising begins for new scholarship
NEW ULM — The inaugural fundraising drive for the new Community and Alumni Scholarship at the New Ulm public high school is beginning.
On Monday, each class of high school students gathered in the auditorium to learn about the new program that aims to expand how many scholarships the school gives out.
“The idea behind this scholarship is not to award one person $5, $10, $25,000; the idea behind it is to cast a wider net, so that we have got more students getting recognized,” guidance counselor Ryan Ziemer said.
Each student is being asked to select 10 people to receive a letter soliciting donations. There is no cap, and students will not be punished if they do not participate.
Students received the forms today and will turn them back in to their first hour teacher or advisors by Nov. 20.
From the money raised, half will go to this year’s seniors. The other half goes into an interest-bearing account for future seniors.
In following years, only the ninth-grade students will be asked to send out letters. The funds will be dispersed in the same manner.
“I am anticipating the biggest bang for the buck happening probably this year,” Ziemer said.
Later seniors will be able to access a pool of half the funds raised plus whatever interest is generated by the savings account.
A donors list will also be assembled from every donor who sends in money. They will be contacted each year to consider donating again.
To sweeten the pot, the high school will award whichever class that sends the most letters a prize, to be determined by representatives of that class, Ziemer said.
The goal is to reach $100,000 this year. So far $13,645.20 has been raised by the class of 1957.
During their reunion, the class asked to take a tour of the high school. They wanted to give back to the district and asked what the school needed.
High School Principal Mark Bergmann said they could back this new initiative and the scholarship was born.
Part of why the school wanted the new scholarship is the relatively smaller amounts of money it gives to graduating seniors.
Last year, 44 seniors received $52,000. The year before (2016) $44,105 was awarded to 37 students and in 2015 $54,233 was awarded to 50 graduates.
In comparison, Waseca, Sibley East Hutchinson and GFW (Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop) all gave more in scholarships, according to the presentation.
GFW gave the most with $135,365 given to 42 graduating students last year. Only New Ulm Area Catholic Schools (NUACS) gave a lower amount than the public high school with $49,375 to 15 seniors.
The high school remains in the same position when considering the average amount of money given per student.
NUACS awarded the most with $3,291.67 per student. The public high school gives an average of $1,181.82 per student, only above Hutchinson which averages $912.26.
“We are one of the biggest schools in the area and we give almost the least amount of money,” Bergmann said. “We have not done a lot with student scholarships, and I think sometimes we forget that it is critical to their success or for some kids even going to college.”
To qualify for the scholarship seniors only need to be graduating and continuing their education.
“You will have to do a little application page which is simply a worksheet with your name, your address and where you plan to go on to school next year,” Ziemer said. “It does not matter to us what type of school you go on to, just that you are going on to further your education in some way, shape or form.”
Students also will have to write an essay addressing how they have helped or will help their community.
Once applications are submitted, they will be reviewed by committees made up of faculty and staff to consider how much will be awarded to whom, dependent ultimately on how much is raised.
Connor Cummiskey can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.