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Out of the Box, Into the Workforce

One of the most interesting aspects of helping donors make a real difference in their communities is staying ahead of the changing needs of our community. As we head into scholarship season this year, we’re seeing a trend toward non-traditional scholarships that offer a creative answer to difficult, and sometimes overlooked, challenges for our families, region, and economy.

These less traditional scholarships and funds provide exciting opportunities to help young people—and even existing workers who need more training—take advantage of special opportunities to improve their lives for good.

Here’s one example: the new Makayla’s Dream Scholarship Fund at CFA is providing cosmetology students in the Greater Pittsburgh region with equipment kits they need to be able to graduate and get a job as a stylist. The story behind it is heartwarming (check it out here), and so is the change we believe this will make for families across our region: The staff and supervisors at Great Clips in Butler who started the fund said the cost of a $300 to $500 cosmetology kit can be insurmountable for some families, creating a barrier for students who want to finish their training and work in their field. Providing this equipment for cosmetologists-in-training will be life-changing.

We have several other new funds that support trades in special ways, too, including one that will support not only job-seekers who need trades or skills training but also incumbent workers who just can’t move up in their job without more education. It’s a really difficult space to find funding for, according to local workforce development experts, but it means the difference between an economy with mismatched job opportunities and skills and one with a steady pipeline of people who are able to step into jobs that pay well and offer opportunities to grow. That new fund, the Y.S. and Y.W. Nam Fund at CFA, was created through a bequest from a local woman who wanted to provide life-changing opportunities to people in her home region. Her wishes now will be honored in perpetuity; the endowment fund is designed to invest in evolving educational and skills needs forever. The first year of funding from this fund, which we just announced, amounted to $85,000 to provide training, work readiness, and skill-building opportunities for up to 240 people and 96 incumbent employees.

These kinds of customized scholarships and scholarship-like funds can solve urgent and unmet needs in our community. They can also provide impact that’s incredibly meaningful in terms of helping young people launch viable careers by supporting them in fields that are in-demand in the local workforce.

Here’s a short list of a few funds that fit into this special category of supporting careers in the trades through support for education, tools or equipment, workforce readiness training, or business startup costs:

  • ICTC Heidi Allison Character Award Fund
  • School to Work Life Transition Award Fund
  • Conemaugh Valley Culinary Association Robert Forquer Memorial Scholarship Fund
  • Y.S. and Y.W. Nam Scholarship Fund
  • Makayla’s Dream Scholarship Fund
  • Juniper Foundation for Business Development and the Trades
  • Ryan Carosi Memorial Scholarship Fund
  • Delvin L. and Nancy J. Lockard Scholarship Fund
  • Johnson Family Scholarship Fund
  • Indiana County Technology Center Scholarship Fund

To search a full list of scholarship funds, see our Scholarships Page.

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