Off The Wall: Thanks for Your Generous Support

I heard you on the news the other day, complaining about how difficult it was to give away a million dollars for your “work ethic” scholarship program. You also said the majority of people who begin an application fail to complete it. Here’s a suggestion – if your goal is to give away a million dollars to people in need of financial assistance, why not make the application process easier? Other scholarship programs don’t require applicants to do the things you do, including signing the SWEAT Pledge, which is frankly, problematic for some people.
Carla Townsend

Hi Carla

Thanks for the suggestion – I’ll certainly take it under advisement. However, you’re mistaken to assume my goal is to give away a million dollars. It isn’t. My goal is to award a million dollars to people who can a) demonstrate an understanding of work ethic, and b) pursue a skill that’s in demand. MikeroweWORKS does in fact have a million dollars earmarked for such people in 2021, and we are currently accepting applications for this year’s recipients at I expect we’ll give it all away, just as we did last year. And I suspect that many of those who apply will be “people in need of financial assistance.” But while I’m truly delighted to help people in need, I do not believe that “neediness” is an indicator of work ethic. Neither is race, gender, religion, sexuality, ethnicity, blood type, or star sign. In other words, my foundation doesn’t care what you look like or where you’re from. We care about your character, and your willingness to master a useful skill. That’s it.

Now, if I sounded like I was “complaining” the other day, I do apologize. Complaining is not a sound I aspire to make. Nor is it a quality we aspire to reward at mikeroweWORKS. What you probably detected in my voice, was the sound of frustration. Or possibly, exasperation. Every year, I go on the air to promote our work ethic scholarship program, and every year, thousands of people start to fill out the application. How many do you suppose finish? The answer is 20%. In other words, 80% do not. They start, but they just can’t seem to get the ball through the hoop. I suppose I could lower our standards, as you’ve suggested, but why would I do that? Seriously, why would I distribute funds to people who can’t be bothered to complete an application? Why would I pay to train people who refuse to provide a few references, or sign a SWEAT PLEDGE, or write a short essay on why they think they possess the qualities we endeavor to reward?

Below, is a list of companies and organizations that supported mikeroweWORKS this year. All of them share my belief that hard work, a positive attitude, delayed gratification, and personal responsibility are the best indicators of success. Imagine you were among these people, Carla. Would you really want me to lower our standards? Would you really want me to award your generous donation to someone who just wants me to send them a check in the mail?

Whatever your answer, I feel an obligation to the people who support mikeroweWORKS – including the many individuals on this page. I want to remind them that our scholarship fund is different. It’s not a terribly popular time to say such things out loud, but the central fact has never changed – we’re not trying to help everyone. We’re trying to help those who share our conviction that hard work, combined with the mastery of a useful skill and a willingness to go to where the work is, can lead to a prosperous life. Those who believe otherwise, are simply beyond our ability to assist.

Attached, is a very short video that features a few applicants who completed their application last year, and learned they’d be receiving the financial assistance they requested. Watching it made me smile. Perhaps it will do the same for you. In the meantime, if you’re in the process of completing your application this year, hurry up and finish. If you have better things to do, than go ahead and do them. This particular pile of free money is probably not for you. And if you’re among the companies and foundations listed below, thanks again for your generous support. I promise, your money will be well spent.

New sponsors this year:

Engelstad Foundation
Andre Agassi Foundation for Education
Bruce Jacobs Fund at Donor Capital Fund
Ray H Marr Foundation

Repeat sponsors:

Koch Industries
Charles Koch Foundation
Wolverine Boots & Apparel
Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery
Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry
Lots of people on this page. (Remember those Safety Third masks? They raised another $250,000! And they’re still available here.

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