When Fatima Ahmad, a junior at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, graduates next spring, she’ll earn a degree in her own custom-created major, which incorporates three concentrations: economics, philosophy and entrepreneurial management. After graduation, she aspires to work on economic development in Africa. “I want to empower entrepreneurs to create development and economic opportunity,” she says.
In her own studies, Ahmad has been empowered through an alliance between Wallin Education Partners and U.S. Bank. As a U.S. Bank Scholar through the Wallin program Ahmad will receive an annual scholarship as well as ongoing individual support and career opportunities.
Wallin began as a private family foundation, founded in 1992 by Winston Wallin, a former
presidentof Pillsbury and CEO of Medtronic, and his wife, Maxine. Wallin’s own college education was made possible by the GI Bill, so when he found himself in a position to give back, he started the scholarship program for low-income students. It soon attracted other donors interested in the program’s high-touch approach and successful results. In 2007, Wallin Education Partners, a separate nonprofit organization, was established and has grown to include more than 60 individual, family, foundation and corporate donors.
More than 4,000 students have received support. Currently the program consists of 540 first-generation low-income students, many of whom are people of color. The 92 percent six year graduation rate sets Wallin Education Partners apart from other traditional scholarship programs.
“Wallin has been very fortunate to have such generous donors over the years. Some have supported more than 100 students others, one or two,” says Susan Basil King, Executive Director of Wallin Education Partners. “All of our donor partners value the high return on their philanthropic investment and the personal connection they develop with their scholars.”