City of Columbia, Shelter Insurance team up for student success

The City of Columbia and the Shelter Insurance Foundation announced that seniors at Battle, Douglass, Hickman and Rock Bridge high schools are eligible to apply for Success Grants to help fund their college and vocational plans. This is the second annual competition for Success Grants.

Awards will be made to three seniors who demonstrate financial need and good character, have at least a 2.5 GPA upon graduation and who complete a service project in one of three neighborhoods identified in the City’s 2016-2019 Strategic Plan.

The Shelter Insurance Foundation will give an annual $1,000 grant, which may be used for tuition, fees, books and housing, to each student who completes a neighborhood service project. Grants may be used at the two- or four-year accredited college, university or career/technical school of the student’s choice.

Mekhia Thompson, a Battle High School graduate, was the first recipient of an annual grant that she’s using to help pay her expenses at the University of Central Missouri. Now enrolled as a freshman, Mekhia hosted a block party last summer to connect families in the East Strategic Plan Neighborhood. Her experience as a youth development counselor with Boys and Girls Club contributed to an event that was fun for kids, parents and other members of the community. This public-spirited young woman is studying design and was a member of the Columbia Business Times “20 Under 20” class of 2017.

The City’s Strategic Plan social equity team, made up of City employees, developed the grant idea and, with City Manager Mike Matthes, pitched it to Shelter Insurance executives.

“To have engaged a partner like Shelter is a dream come true. That company loves Columbia, and it shows in its commitment to students for the long haul,” City of Columbia Civic Relations Officer Toni Messina said.

Brian Jones, Shelter’s manager of diversity and inclusion, said that Success Grants are consistent with the company’s belief that investing in young people yields long-term benefits for students, their families and the community.

“We wanted to make this more than a one-time connection,” Jones said. “Our commitment over two or four years means we’ll be watching these students and pulling for them, as if they were our own kids.”

As Success Grant partners, the Shelter Foundation and the City of Columbia know that the cost of higher education far exceeds the awards offered.

“Some of us recall needing every extra dollar and every last word of encouragement to reach our education goals, especially if we were the first in our family to aim that high,” Messina said.

Jones said that Success Grants carry benefits beyond cash.

“Students will gain study and work skills, have City employee mentors and see the tangible results of their work in their neighborhoods,” Jones said. “Columbia gets future leaders and employees ready to make their own personal investments in the community.”

Applications are due by 5 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 12, 2018. Application forms are available at the reception desk at City Hall, 701 E Broadway.  Online application forms are also available.
To learn more about the City’s 2016-2019 Strategic Plan.