It started with a donation of 400 backpacks filled with school supplies for students in Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191 in September 2016.
Now, generous donors Kevin and Greta Warren have presented major scholarships to four District 191 students who will be the first in their families to attend college.
The recipients, two female and two male students, will receive $5,000 each year for four years to cover tuition and other costs to earn an undergraduate degree at a college or university.
The Kevin & Greta Warren No Doors Closed Scholar Awards were presented students at the District 191 Board of Education meeting on May 11. Inaugural recipients are Manuel Andrade, who attends Burnsville Alternative High School, and Nia Blanks, Tommy Bui and Dhavena Tejpaul, who attend Burnsville High School.
“Greta and I want to ensure we do what we can to give local high school students a critical secondary education opportunity,” said Warren, who is an attorney and the chief operating officer of the Minnesota Vikings. “We both have a passion for education and have been blessed in our careers, so we view it as our fiduciary responsibility to pay it forward to students within our community.”
“This incredibly generous scholarship will be a game changer for our students,” said Dr. Stacie Stanley, the district’s director of Systems Improvement & Student Achievement. “Our students have shown strong academic ability and this will allow them to garner the post-secondary education they will need to make a difference in each of their communities.”
Students in the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) and/or College Possible college readiness programs were eligible to apply. Fourteen students from Burnsville High School and Burnsville Alternative High School filled out applications, which included writing about obstacles they’d overcome, their goals for community involvement and their plans for the future.
In addition to their essays, students were evaluated on leadership, community participation, volunteer service and participation in sports or the arts. They had to meet a certain grade point average, be members of underserved or underrepresented groups on college campuses, and show desire and determination to succeed.
The Warrens plan to continue awarding four scholarships annually until a total of 16 students are in the program on a rolling basis.
When reviewing the applications, the Warrens decided spontaneously to donate additional one-time funding of $500 to each of the 10 students who applied for the scholarship but will not be receiving it.
In addition to financial backing, Warren has already connected students with possible networking and mentoring opportunities to further launch them into careers and opportunities.
“The Warrens are very giving people whose donations are going to make a major difference in the lives of several young people,” said Stanley. “We are so grateful for all that the Warrens are doing to support the future success of One91 students.”