The Northwest Minnesota Foundation is now partnering with Northwest Technical College to grow scholarship funding that helps more students prepare for careers in high-demand areas of the region’s workforce.

The Northwest Technical College Foundation Board of Directors unanimously approved a contract for service with the Northwest Minnesota Foundation during its Feb. 21 meeting.

Since it was founded in 1986, the Northwest Minnesota Foundation has worked to improve the quality of life in its 12-county service region, which includes Bemidji. Dr. Faith C. Hensrud, president of Northwest Technical College and Bemidji State University, says NTC’s opportunity to join with the foundation is a significant milestone for the college.

“We could not be more excited to begin this strategic partnership,” Hensrud said. “Together, we will create opportunity for deserving students who choose Northwest Technical College as a pathway to careers in the fields where our region most needs their knowledge and talents.”

Lori Paris, president of the NTC Foundation Board of Directors, says the partnership gives the NTC Foundation “a total support system” that will help the college provide more students with vital support while they pursue their educations.

“I hear all the time from businesses that they lack access to a skilled workforce,” she said. “This partnership will help the NTC Foundation generate revenue and increase awareness of the need for scholarships, which will help support our students as they learn the skills those businesses are seeking.”

Under the agreement, the Northwest Minnesota Foundation will manage funds for seven endowed scholarships at Northwest Technical College:

  • Fred Breen Endowment Scholarship Fund
  • Paul Bunyan Vintage Auto Club Endowed Scholarship Fund
  • Northwest Technical College General Scholarship Fund
  • Northwest Technical College Automotive/Motorsports Scholarship Fund
  • Northwest Technical College Building Trades Scholarship Fund
  • Northwest Technical College Business Scholarship Fund
  • Northwest Technical College Health Care Scholarship Fund

Northwest Minnesota Foundation staff member Ashley Johnson, who has been promoted to the role of development officer, will direct its partnership with the NTC Foundation in addition to supporting its other philanthropic capacities as part of the development team.

Johnson has been with the Northwest Minnesota Foundation as its communications specialist since 2012, helping the foundation develop communications and marketing strategies for its philanthropic services, community and economic development programs, nonprofit training, youth leadership and early childhood initiatives, and regional collaborative projects. Prior to that, she spent six years at Lakeland Public Television as a reporter, a corporate support representative and, most recently, as the station’s legacy production manager.

“I am eager to begin working with the NTC Foundation Fund and its Board of Directors to help students afford to prepare for a fulfilling career,” Johnson said. “By providing more scholarships, we will be able to better serve the students of NTC and retain a talented workforce in northwest Minnesota.”

Northwest Minnesota Foundation President Nancy Vyskocil said the partnership supports the foundation’s belief that a quality education plays an integral role in a person’s pursuit of a better life.

“Northwest Minnesota needs a highly trained workforce and the Northwest Technical College is a great partner to the region addressing this critical need,” Vyskocil said.

“The Northwest Minnesota Foundation is excited and humbled by the trust put in us by the Board of the Northwest Technical College Foundation, Northwest Technical College, Dr. Hensrud and all the dedicated faculty and staff of the college,” she said.

“We are ready to start building the endowment of the Northwest Technical College Foundation and look forward to watching the scholarships benefit scores of students — now and in the future.”