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CAMBRIA COUNTY—“Having a deserving student receive the scholarship each year,” said Bud Strandquest, benefactor. “That’s my favorite part.”

Bud Strandquest is the reason the Strandquest-Simmons Program and Scholarship exists. “The scholarship was set up as a means for us to give back to our community, and in a small way to hopefully promote/stimulate economic growth within our region and beyond through entrepreneurial efforts,” said Strandquest. “The scholarship is named after my grandfathers, both Johnstown residents; one an entrepreneur that started up two businesses and the other, an aspiring entrepreneur.”

The Strandquest-Simmons Entrepreneurship Program and Scholarship was created to encourage and reward business-minded high school seniors. The program connects participants with local business leaders who offer guidance and advice as mentors throughout the school year. Applicants are also able to participate in Entrepreneurial Alchemy, a community initiative that meets monthly at Pitt-Johnstown, bringing together people, ideas and money in order to initiate, facilitate and support organic economic growth in the Greater Johnstown region.

“Bud expressed an interest in doing more than just awarding a scholarship,” said Katrina Perkosky, Development Associate. “He wanted to provide networking and opportunities so students could learn from local entrepreneurs. Working with the Foundation’s community partners, I was able to build a program that offered great experiences for the students.”

This award is targeting not only practicing student entrepreneurs, but also those students that aspire to become entrepreneurs. “Students should not think the program and scholarship is not for them if they are not currently starting up a business. Business plans are not a requirement. Our first year winner was an aspiring entrepreneur, and we hope the scholarship will encourage him to follow his aspirations,” said Strandquest.

In addition, the scholarship fund is not only applicable to students that will be going to college. Some student entrepreneurs may want to go to a vocational school to pick up certain skills rather that going to college. The award recipient, at their choice, can accept the award as a grant for post-graduate Vocational School, subject to applicable taxes or if they are applying to an in-state College, they are eligible for matching funds.

“When you start a fund at the Community Foundation, we work to achieve your charitable goals, no matter what they are. We are uniquely connected to the community and can use that knowledge to help you give to the causes that matter most to you,” said Perkosky.

The scholarship is eligible for students from; Bishop McCort, Conemaugh Valley, Ferndale, Greater Johnstown, Richland and Westmont school districts. This year’s winner, selected by a group of local business leaders and receiving $2000, was Matthew Russo. Beginning in 2017, the amount awarded will be increased to $4,000.

“Johnstown has been my home town for most of my life. It’s been a wonderful place for my wife and me to raise our daughter,” said Strandquest. “I hope by creating this program it will offer opportunities for our local students and opportunities for our region.”

To find out more how to start a scholarship program email Katrina Perkosky.

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