Crawford County takes aim at ‘brain drain’


GALION — The Community Foundation for Crawford County and First Federal Community Bank have joined forces to offer Ohio’s first Come Home Scholarship Fund.

The Community Foundation for Crawford County is accepting applications for a unique scholarship program designed to attract college graduates from Crawford County to return home to live and work.

Traditional scholarships are given to students at the “front-end” of their educational journey, encouraging them to move away without any guarantee that they will ever return, or even complete their degree. There is not necessarily a return on investment for Crawford County with traditional scholarships.

Come Home Scholarships, on the other hand, are paid on the “back-end” of the education, awarding money to graduates to use toward college debt.

In return, these recipients move back home to work.

“The purpose of these new funds will be about more than just supporting education,” said Bradley Murtiff, President and CEO of First Federal Community Bank. “They will also be strategically focused on economic development and talent retention, or reversing the ‘brain drain’.

“First Federal is excited to help the Foundation launch this new initiative with a $15,000 contribution, and we encourage other businesses and individuals to make donations to start additional Come Home Scholarship Funds.”

Murtiff, who also is on the Come Home Scholarship selection committee, pointed out that the requirements will also be different from those of traditional scholarships.

The requirements include: completion of an associate, undergraduate, graduate, or skilled trade program within the last seven years; proof of student debt; and proof of employment or an entrepreneurial venture in Crawford County within 120 days from the time of selection.

Applicants may not be already living in Crawford County at the time of their application. Awards will be $10,000, paid in quarterly increments of $2,500. There is no deadline to apply, as the process will be ongoing.

Foundation President Lisa Workman explained how the idea for these new scholarships came to light.

“In 2016, three community foundations in Michigan ( — Huron, St. Clair, and Sanilac Counties — had started Come Home Scholarships to try to attract young people back to the Thumb Region. They offered their research and their program materials on a webinar, and when I shared it with our Board they were enthusiastic and wanted to bring a similar program to Crawford County.

“Since we know increasing our level of educational attainment in Crawford County would also mean a positive overall economic impact, working with First Federal to start this fund was right in line with our vision statement of ‘bridging philanthropy with causes that improve Crawford County’s quality of life.’

“As far as we know, we are only the fourth community foundation in the nation — and the first in Ohio — to offer these scholarships.”

Workman added that the Crawford Partnership’s 20/20 Vision plan, written in 2010, addressed “curbing the outmigration of individuals under 45 years old to help counter an eroding tax base and reduction in government services.”

To that end, selection committee members will also come from the Crawford Partnership and the Crawford County Commissioners.

The Community Foundation for Crawford County was established in 1984 with the generous help of the Timken Foundation. All donations are welcome and tax deductible.

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Innovative scholarship will pay locals to return home after college

 

Staff report

 

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