Penn State Lehigh Valley of Upper Saucon Township and Lehigh Carbon Community College of Schnecksville are partnering to create a combined scholarship fund to help students afford tuition and close the talent gap.
“Both institutions have a commitment to access and affordability,” said Tina Richardson, chancellor of Penn State Lehigh Valley. “We are partnering to take a collaborative impact approach to make sure we were responding to the economic development needs of the community.”
Penn State and LCCC will use the Collective Impact Scholarship Fund to provide support for students who graduate from one of the high schools in the region and attend either LCCC or Penn State Lehigh Valley.
Both institutions want to ensure the education they provide is relevant to business and industry, Richardson said.
“We wanted to be strategic in how we respond to what we see as a call to action,” Richardson said. “Some businesses have signed on to support the scholarship fund.”
These businesses include PPL, Victaulic and Jim and Rob Brooks, owners of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms professional hockey team. Both schools are looking for more businesses to support the scholarship fund and will host a fundraiser event at 6 p.m. Sept. 20 at the Philadelphia Flyers exhibition ice hockey game at PPL Center in Allentown.
“We intend to have a series of annual events,” Richardson said. “We would like to exceed any figure we put forward.”
The university will provide matching funds with a 1-to-1 match. If a donation is $50,000, Penn State Lehigh Valley will match that amount, she said.
“We are trying to close the gap so it stays closed,” Richardson said. “We don’t want to lose the talent that we have in the Valley. It will be one of the best investments you can make in our local community.”
The scholarship fund is open to any high school student in LCCC’s service area, which includes districts in Lehigh, Carbon and Schuylkill counties, said Ann Bieber, president of LCCC.
“The beautiful pathway is that this allows them to go to Penn State,” Bieber said. “For us, Penn State is a strong partner. Our students stay in the Lehigh Valley and become productive individuals serving our workforce. We were thrilled that the business community has helped us put together what we hope will be an annual event.”
Their overall goal is to help students stay in school and complete their degree.