Focus on a Specialized Scholarship Program: The Annexstad Family Foundation
A shared life experience for Cathy and Al Annexstad (’10) is that they are children of single-parent homes created by the untimely deaths of parents. As a result, they grew up watching their living parents’ struggle to give their children the best lives possible. In Al’s case, this meant, in part, putting himself through college. In 2000, Cathy and Al established the Annexstad Family Foundation with the mission of helping bring the gift of higher education to deserving young people.
The Leaders for Tomorrow scholarship works to ensure its scholars
graduate in four years as free from debt as possible. The Annexstads discovered that providing outside scholarship assistance directly to students would not always assure that a student could avoid taking on debt in order to stay in college. To achieve their objective, the Foundation partners with a select group of colleges and universities which, in turn, select scholarship recipients. In this way, higher education professionals determine who best meets the agreed upon student profile. Leaders for Tomorrow scholars present maximum financial need, exceptional academic achievement and have endured extraordinary personal hardship in their young lives.
The $25,000 scholarship helps close the gap with costs after the institution has applied merit and need-based aid to the greatest extent
possible. Participation in the federal work-study program is a requirement of each scholar. It is believed that work study advances personal responsibility and time management skills and also ties the student to the campus community, which better ensures college graduation. In fact, the Foundation’s scholars have a four-year graduation success rate of more than 90 percent.
Today, the Foundation partners with nearly 50 of the nation’s preeminent institutions of higher learning, among them Duke University, Harvard University, Washington University in St. Louis, Stanford University, the University of Notre Dame, Yale University, the University of Mississippi, Vanderbilt University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Georgia. In the coming year the Foundation will celebrate its 20th year of operation during which the 1,000th scholarship will be awarded.
More than 90 percent of the scholars are the first in their families to attend college and nearly half were raised in single-parent homes. Virtually all of the program’s nearly 400 graduates to date are either gainfully employed in their chosen academic fields or pursuing advanced degrees.
“Cathy and I are extremely proud of our Leaders for Tomorrow scholars,” says Al. “We, along with the members of our family who work in the Foundation, hope we are making a difference in these young lives and in the future of the country we love so much.”