SCHUYLKILL, Pa. — Bert Evans understands that often the greatest hurdle a student can face in completing a degree program is a financial limitation. Evans and his wife, Josette, have long been involved in helping to make education an attainable goal for local, working adult learners through their scholarship funding, but they have expanded their philanthropic interests with the establishment of two new scholarship funds targeting Penn State Schuylkill’s traditional undergraduate student body.
Evans is partnering with Penn State Schuylkill in an effort to not only attract and retain local students, but also to encourage graduating students to pursue their post-college careers in Schuylkill County.
Staying on track
The first of two newly established scholarships is The Josette and Bert Evans Internship Fund. This scholarship will assist students who are enrolled at, or planning to enroll at, Penn State Schuylkill and who are participating in an internship opportunity in Schuylkill County. The fund will provide a stipend, specifically earmarked for students completing an unpaid internship. Evans understands the value of internships in helping to retain graduating students in the Schuylkill County workforce. Evans, himself, is proof that employers regularly hire out of their internship programs.
“It’s a wonderful resource for businesses and has proven to be a great source for well-trained employees, as we hire about 50 percent of the interns who work for us during their college years when they graduate,” stated Evans.
The second of two targeted scholarship funds is the Josette and Bert Evans Open Doors Scholarship. The Open Doors programs were designed to help keep students on track to degree completion. The University recently offered a 2:1 University match for donor gifts to create scholarships for students in the programs. There are currently five distinct Open Doors Scholarship programs that assist students at different junctures in their academic life.
The Josette and Bert Evans Open Doors Scholarship will be awarded to Penn State Schuylkill students in two specific programs. Pathway to Success: Summer Start or PaSSS, is a program that assists incoming freshmen in the summer prior to their first year on campus as well as during the summer between their first and second years. Learning critical employment skills and earning credits provides students a leg up and keeps them on track to graduate on time. The second program is Complete Penn State, focusing on students who are nearing degree completion but facing an unexpected financial hardship that puts them at risk for not graduating. By stepping in to provide a bridge in funding, Complete Penn State assists these students in meeting their graduation goals. With approximately 92 percent of Penn State Schuylkill students receiving financial assistance, many of whom represent the first generation in their family to attend college, scholarship support can be a decisive tool in the rate of success.
Penn State lives here
Bert Evans acknowledges the important relationship between the campus and the community.
“For those of us in business locally, the University is a great source of academic help. We have previously worked with professors as consultants on projects and have collaborated to offer evening programs in IT and Spanish tailored to our specific needs," he said. It was through these collaborations that Evans realized the alignment of objectives that exists between the University and the business community and why he chose to invest in student success.
In recognition of Evans’ dedication to student achievement at Penn State Schuylkill, he was the featured speaker at this year’s Blue & White dinner where he shared his thoughts about the importance of scholarship funding to an audience that included campus donors, staff and faculty, and students. Interim Chancellor Darcy Medica acknowledged his many contributions, saying, “Mr. Evans is a man dedicated to his family, friends and employees, respected among his colleagues for his leadership role within Schuylkill County and the surrounding area, and valued for his longstanding commitment to enhancing the educational opportunities for students at Penn State Schuylkill.”
A Greater Penn State
The Evans' gift will advance "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence," a focused campaign that seeks to elevate Penn State’s position as a leading public university in a world defined by rapid change and global connections. With the support of alumni and friends, "A Greater Penn State" seeks to fulfill the three key imperatives of a 21st-century public university: keeping the doors to higher education open to hard-working students regardless of financial well-being; creating transformative experiences that go beyond the classroom; and impacting the world by fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship.
To learn more about "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence," contact Penn State Schuylkill’s Office of Development at 570-385-6260 and visit greaterpennstate.psu.edu.