Entrepreneurs' $4M fund offers scholarships to students

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A couple set up a $4 million scholarship fund upon their deaths to give higher education opportunities to Wisconsin and Minnesota students who wouldn’t otherwise have the option.
Wisconsin entrepreneurs Marty Ryan and Richard Sterbenz lacked formal educations but amassed a fortune running several businesses, the Twin Cities Pioneer Press reported . They operated global meat-trading business Dalson Foods and realty company Richmar Industries, among other businesses.
Ryan died in 2010 at the age of 63. Sterbenz died in 2016 at 71.
The couple established the Sterbenz-Ryan Scholarships to “give kids like them a shot at life that they never had,” said longtime friend Karen Hansen.
Sterbenz and Ryan were “lifelong learners” who “educated themselves on the job,” Hansen said.
“They had what we would call street smarts, things that degrees don’t necessarily give you, but astuteness on how to be a good businessperson — that you learn just by continuing to figure it out,” she said.
The scholarships will be awarded annually to about 100 students. Eligible applicants include students attending a vocational-technical school; high school students from the St. Croix River Valley attending a two- or four-year college; or students attending Metro State University in St. Paul, Century College in White Bear Lake or Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College.
Sterbenz and Ryan strongly believed in vocational-technical schools, said Jenny Hansen, the couple’s accountant and Sterbenz’s assistant.
“They believed in hands-on jobs and just wanted to help kids who were like them be able to go to school,” she said. “They didn’t get that chance.”
The endowed fund is being administered by the St. Croix Valley Foundation.
The fund “will provide educational opportunities to thousands of worthy students and help build and employ a skilled workforce for communities in the St. Croix River Valley,” said Heather Logelin, president of the St. Croix Valley Foundation. “It is truly transformative.”
Information from: St. Paul Pioneer Press, http://www.twincities.com

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