As some of you know, I have a small foundation called mikeroweWORKS. It began six years ago on this day. Since then, things have since gotten progressively and delightfully out of hand.
The purpose of mikeroweWORKS is to encourage more people to pursue job opportunities that actually exist – specifically, opportunities that require the mastery of a skill that’s in demand. That means lots of PR, lots of speeches, and lots of partnerships with companies and organizations that help reinvigorate the skilled trades. Toward that end, we also have a Work Ethic Scholarship Program.
So far this year, mikeroweWORKS and its partner schools have granted approximately $3 million to 176 qualified students who committed themselves to careers in welding, transportation, carpentry, diesel repair, heavy equipment, aviation, and several other vocations that make civilized life possible for all of us.
Last week, I intended to announce the recipients of this years final $200,000 allotment, but something happened that dramatically affected the number of applicants we could serve. Something good. And Labor Day seems an ideal time to share the details with you.
Long story short, 120 students went through the most recent application process. 46 were selected as finalists. We then began the process of looking at how to best divide the money. Not easy. We don’t award every student the same amount. We evaluate individual circumstances, and spread the available funds around in a way that makes the most sense overall. Unfortunately, there was simply not enough this time to go around in a meaningful way. That meant reducing the total number of finalists to 20 or 25. That was not something I was looking forward to doing.
Anyway, flash forward to the final scene of It’s a Wonderful Life. While I was off shooting Somebody’s Gotta Do it, Tina Oswald mentioned to one of our partners that we had an amazing pool of people who were committed to becoming skilled tradespeople, but not enough money to get them the training they needed. Over the next few days, word got around, and by the time I got back, we had another $300,000 in the kitty. Literally, overnight.
Bottom line – 46 people are going to trade school, and Tina got her wings. Meet the recipients here.
I will now thank and possibly embarrass the following organizations for stepping up in a most surprising and unexpected way.
Universal Technical Institute – $150,000 of cash and tuition credits.
Mid-West Technical Institute – $50,000
Mercury One – $25,000
Country Music Television – $10,000
Tulsa Welding School – $5,000 in tuition credits
The American Welding Society – $2,500 scholarship to our female welding finalist.
Lincoln College of Technology – one full-ride for finalist attending their school.
Lincoln Electric – one “Gear Pack” to each of our welder finalists to help with the tool needs.
The American Association of Community Colleges is working with all their schools to further help our finalists beyond this.
And finally, a person who preferred to remain anonymous sent us a check for $50,000. Remarkable.
The biggest thanks of course, is to all of you. Much of the money we’ve raised at mikeroweWORKS is a result of your generosity. Look for future C.R.A.P. auctions to continue later this fall, and other non-traditional attempts to keep the skilled trades on the country’s radar.
Happy Labor Day, and Keep it Dirty
PS (There will be no Ice Buckets.)