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Community Foundation announces grant winners

Courtesy Photo Scholarship recipient Ivy Kokoszka speaks to a room full of 90 Community Foundation for Northeast Michigan scholarship donors, committee members, scholarship fund representatives, and current and former trustees.

ALPENA — The Community Foundation for Northeast Michigan (CFNEM) and its affiliate foundation service area have awarded scholarships to 196 students 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 said that once all scholarships are designated, approximately $550,000 will be awarded throughout the CFNEM’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 foundations: Iosco County Community Foundation, North Central Michigan Community Foundation, and Straits Area Community Foundation.

“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,” Wiesen said. “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 CFNEM 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, a 2005 recipient of First Federal of Northern Michigan Scholarship to attend Alpena Community College. Fleishan’s 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 further 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.

The Community Foundation for Northeast Michigan is a nonprofit charitable organization committed to providing people who care about the future of our area with unique and effective ways of supporting their community now, and for generations to come.