Students of Belle High School and State Technical College of Missouri this year will be able to take advantage of two scholarship funds totaling $1.4 million founded in memory of Belle alum Fred Schierloh.
One scholarship fund sets aside $800,000 for students graduating from the Maries County R-2 School District; another dedicates $600,000 for students attending State Tech, according to a news release by the Meramec Regional Planning Commission.
In 2019, one scholarship will be available to a Belle High School student, worth $3,000, and to a State Tech student, at $5,000.
Schierloh graduated from Belle High School in 1962, having grown up on a farm south of town. He went on to graduate from the Rolla School of Mines, now the Missouri University of Science and Technology, with an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering. Schierloh later received a graduate degree in engineering from Wayne State University in Detroit.
"He never did stop learning, and he was very opinionated about people getting education," Schierloh's brother, John, said. "You know, he was always trying to convince people who maybe weren't in a position to get education to get it."
After Schierloh died in 2016, John and their sister, Sandra Eckert Stewart, began work on the scholarship as Schierloh had asked.
"It's just a relief that it's there," John said. "It's an endowment. It should last forever, and we built it so the Schierloh family could have some say in the selection of the candidates, or not."
The two funds are a part of the Meramec Regional Community Foundation and managed by the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, which will follow guidelines established by the family.
More information on applying for the scholarship, named the Schierloh Family Scholarship, will be announced early this year.
The scholarships do have some minimal criteria, John added, but are meant to focus on students who need help to afford college but don't qualify for government assistance.
"There are quite a few government programs that could help people who have absolutely zero resources," John said. "But there's a group of people in the middle who can't really afford the expenses of a college education. But when they fill out the government form, the government says that they can afford it. We were really trying to target that group of people right there in the middle."
The scholarships will be renewable, so a recipient can receive it for multiple years. Eventually, the number of scholarships offered each year should go up to two at Belle and three at State Tech, the release said.
Shannon Grus, vice president of advancement at State Tech, said the scholarship could greatly reduce student's out-of-pocket expenses, such as tuition, books and laboratory fees.
State Tech hopes to encourage more scholarships like the Schierloh Family Scholarship, Grus added, and manage them through the college. Now, many of the scholarships at State Tech are funded through companies or other private organizations, she said.
Grus said the idea is possible through the Foundation for State Tech College of Missouri, a separate nonprofit that works to benefit the college.
"For $20,000, a person can endow a scholarship at State Tech, and it will be there perpetually forever," Grus said, adding the interest developed from the original amount is what goes into the scholarship.