Attention, All Workhorses!

An update from the Erickson Merkel Foundation during our second round of scholarship applications


Executive Perspective

By Eric Jungels, executive director


Hello everyone, and happy 2016!

Eric Jungels, executive director

Eric Jungels, executive director

I’m happy to report that our first year as a fully-functioning educational-focused 501(c)(3) went extremely well! Our fledgling team of fundraisers did a splendid job at organizing our efforts and getting their feet under them – both in raising money for scholarships and for spreading the word about them being available.

More than 40 candidates submitted their applications during our relatively brief inaugural application window last year. From those outstanding candidates we found Allissa Heim, Ayesha Ahmad and Hillary Noll. The Erickson Merkel Foundation’s Board of Directors felt that each of those three candidates embodied the values we strive to reward, and were awarded a total of $6,000 in scholarship monies.

This year we’re hoping to award that much again, and as a reminder, the scholarship window is open until April 15. Applications can be found here.

We’ve got a strong feeling that this year we’ll receive far more applicants, which will make our job a bit more challenging. But still, we’re looking forward to the work and can’t wait to find out more about all the potential candidates, their stories and their dedicated and proactive efforts to secure their own futures.

Just like last year, so far the first couple months of 2016 have been a whirlwind of activity for the Erickson Merkel Foundation.

We submitted our filings to extend business into North Dakota, where our other founder and about one-quarter of the team lives. We’ve looked to expand our individual fundraising effort. We’re also fostering some good old-fashioned friendly rivalries between our Minnesota team and our North Dakota team. Each has unique strengths and experiences, and we’re looking forward to seeing what each team can do in their own fundraising capacities.

Even today, our North Dakota team of Jared Klempel, Chris Erickson, Mike Renner, Tyson Bittner and Jeff Hare are putting together an event that can only be described as an ambitious community event: The Winter Dummy Race. That race will involve, as Chris puts it: “Building a dummy from spare parts, pushing it down a hill, and having good family fun in February.” You can find the Facebook event page here.

It’s an excellent idea, and serves two causes – it helps create a sense of community within and around the North Dakota team and its efforts, and it can help to bring awareness to our organization’s efforts. And more awareness means more potential workhorse scholars will know about our scholarships.

That type of effort will lend itself nicely to our goal of building a long-term, self-sustaining scholarship fund. I’m excited to just go out and watch the event, and I might bring my own dummy along. I don’t know how I’ll compete against the North Dakota team’s Bigfoot dummy, but I’m hopeful I’ll come up with something adequate by comparison.

The Minnesota team has also undertaken its own planning and strategizing. Recently the group held a one-night fundraiser, which saw nearly $1,000 come in for the organization. That’s one scholarship due to one night’s work, and if we can keep up that momentum then we’ll be able to offer more scholarships soon. If we get the increase in applications that we’re anticipating, we’re going to need to do just that.

Our members have done a lot of work so far, and we’ve got a lot left to do as time goes on. The beauty of this group is that everyone is still excited about our mission and are all looking forward to positively impacting the lives of more workhorse scholars, this year, and in years to come.

If you know any workhorse scholars, let them know about us. And, if you’d like to help us out by spreading the word, help out with future fundraisers or even donate a few dollars, we’d love to hear from you!