A.L. native creates new scholarship to encourage skilled workers

Published 10:03 am Wednesday, July 1, 2015

An Albert Lea native is funding a new scholarship aimed at addressing a need for skilled workers in the city.

The award, called the Steve Leuthold Family Foundation Scholarship, will pay for up to $10,000 over two years for each recipient. Recipients must be Albert Lea High School graduates and be enrolled at Riverland Community College as full-time students in a career and technical program.

Steve Leuthold

Steve Leuthold

Leuthold, a 1956 Albert Lea High School graduate, said he hopes the scholarships will help incoming students recognize they can find good-paying, respectable jobs through a community college. One of the top concerns for economic development right now is finding skilled workers to fill available jobs, and many of these skills can be learned locally.

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People also often think they can get a better job after getting a four-year university degree, but that is often not the case, he said.

Some of the technical career pathways included under the scholarship are programs for industrial maintenance mechanics, electricians, auto mechanics, diesel mechanics, computer tech technicians, carpenters, collision repair specialists and nurses, to name a few.

Steve Bowron, dean of institutional advancement at Riverland, said Leuthold’s goals fit well with some of the challenges seen presently with local business and industry. Many of the open jobs are creating shortages for manufacturers and the health care industry and do not require a university degree.

“It helps the young people understand that other people care about these skilled pathways,” Bowron said. “It tells the students how important they are and how important that career pathway is.”

Bowron said it is not uncommon for students in these programs to have jobs lined up before they even graduate because of the demand for these skills.

Leuthold, who has been an investment strategist, manager and researcher for over 45 years and is the founder of The Leuthold Group LLC., an investment research firm, said in the first year there will be three scholarships available for about $5,000 each that will cover a year of schooling at Riverland Community College. If the students have done satisfactory work that first year, the scholarship will also pay for the second year.

After the first year, funding for three additional scholarships will start — making a total of six scholarships available at any time over the two-year period. The scholarships should cover all expenses, including books.

Leuthold said an independent panel will select the recipients. The panel will look at an essay, academics and other criteria. The scholarship will be part of the Riverland Community College Foundation.

Bowron said a presentation about the scholarships was given to Albert Lea’s senior class before school dismissed. The deadline for applications is July 15.