ALPENA – A total of 196 students from the Community Foundation for Northeast Michigan (CFNEM) and its affiliate foundation service area have been awarded scholarships this year.

“Across all nine counties served by the Foundation, our students have received $443,980 in scholarships so far in 2019,” said CFNEM Program Director Julie Wiesen. “Most of these awards are for the 2019-2020 academic year, but several are multi-year awards.”

Wiesen says that once all scholarships are designated, approximately $550,000 will be awarded throughout the Community Foundation’s nine-county service area, which includes Alcona, Alpena, Cheboygan, Crawford, Iosco, Montmorency, Ogemaw, Oscoda and Presque Isle counties. This service area includes CFNEM and three affiliate foundation: Iosco County Community Foundation, North Central Michigan Community Foundation and Straits Area Community Foundation.

“The Scholarship Review Committees really has their work cut out for them every year,” said Wiesen. “These students have so many demands placed on them in a very competitive atmosphere, yet they still make time to volunteer, pursue extracurricular interests, and/or have a job. For many students, receiving a scholarship – no matter the size – can have a real impact on their future.”

At a recent event held by the community foundation honoring scholarship donors, three previous scholarship recipients, Ivy Kokoszka, Brendan Fleishans and Alayna Nugent, shared what their award meant for them.

Kokoszka is a recipient of the Michael Wentworth Scholarship Fund held at CFNEM’s Iosco County Community Foundation affiliate. The fund was established in memory of Wentworth, who was a lifelong summer resident of Iosco County, and had a passion for art which spilled over into his education and career. Kokoszka has received over $165,000 in scholarship funding from this fund, which aims to support students with a strong interest and career path in a visual arts field.

Attendees at the event also heard from Fleishans, who was a 2005 recipient of First Federal of Northern Michigan Scholarship to attend Alpena Community College. Fleishans’ scholarship inspired a personal philanthropic goal: once he was gainfully employed at his first job, he immediately began to give back to the foundation to help others, and eventually was invited to become a CFNEM trustee, serving for two years before moving out of the area for employment. He says this scholarship, which allowed him to purchase a computer, had an impact on his life that reached farther than many scholarship donors may be aware an award could.

Nugent, a 2018 graduate of Alpena High School also spoke about how much the Big A Scholarship and Park Family Scholarship has helped her with her education at the University of Michigan.

“Stories like these are what make each and every fund at the Community Foundation so special,” said CFNEM Executive Director Patrick Heraghty. “Behind each fund entrusted to the Foundation is a story of legacy. It is a gift of optimism and promise from one generation to the next.”

One of the unique aspects of the CFNEM scholarship program is that many of its scholarships are not just determined by academic achievement. Each scholarship reflects the intentions of the donor, and in some cases, that means the emphasis is placed on student interests such as farming, a trade such as welding or plumbing, the arts or healthcare. All graduating seniors are encouraged to apply for scholarships, regardless of whether they plan to attend a trade certification program, community college or a four-year university.

To see a full list of 2019 scholarship recipients, or to learn more about scholarship opportunities offered through CFNEM, visit cfnem.org. Scholarships for the 2020 season for the Community Foundation for Northeast Michigan will be open in early January.