LandCare Creates Scholarship Program for First-Generation College Attendees - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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LandCare Creates Scholarship Program for First-Generation College Attendees

LandCare, based in Frederick, Maryland, has launched the new LandCare Scholarship Program, under its non-profit LEAF (LandCare Education Assistance Foundation). This program will provide financial assistance for tuition, books and other related expenses of post-secondary education for the children of team members who will be the first generation in their family to attend college.

First-generation college students often face unique challenges when applying for and attending college. LandCare’s new program is designed to help these students at every step.

“We saw a need and an opportunity to serve our team members in a way that they’re not being served today,” says Mike Bogan, CEO of LandCare. “The American Dream for immigrants to this country can prove to be very elusive. We want to make that dream a reality and ensure the children of our team members have access to all that there is to offer.”

The scholarships are funded through the donations of fellow LandCare team members. Bogan says they’ve had the opportunity to expand the fund through the generous pledges of their team members who have given an open commitment. This allows LandCare to respond to all the qualified applicants who apply.

“We feel very fortunate that we don’t have a limit on the assistance that we are looking to provide,” Bogan says. “Ultimately, our vision is to be able to say, ‘Hey, if you work at LandCare paying for college is not going to be a problem. If you have a child that’s the first of your family to go to college, there will be financial assistance to get them there.’ That’s a bold promise because we have a large population of employees, but that’s our goal.” 

The general public is also able to donate to LEAF. Bogan says they don’t plan to solicit their clients to donate, but they are welcome to give if they want to support LEAF.

Unlike other scholarship programs, LandCare is not asking for financial need verification. Bogan says if you’re a first-generation college student of a team member, they want to help. To be eligible, the team member needs to be in good standing for at least one year with the company and the child has to prove they’re going to a college or technical school, have been accepted and plan to attend.

To renew the scholarship on an annual basis, the student has to maintain a certain GPA, but Bogan says they’re pretty lenient as long as the student is passing and progressing.

Aside from financial assistance, LEAF will also provide support and educational guidance for team members’ children, including sourcing other financial aid, counseling, preparatory classes and early academic assistance.

“The counseling and aid in applying for other available assistance opportunities are really just as important as the scholarship,” Bogan says. “We might be able to say, ‘Here’s $3,000 to defer the cost of tuition,’ but far more important than that, we should be able to help them find access to another $10,000 or $15,000.”

Bogan says he wants his team members’ children to see college as a viable pathway. LandCare will provide resource mapping as many of their team members don’t know where to go, or who to ask, and language barriers can stop the conversation from even starting.

“We want to get the message out that as a child of our team members, you are going to be able to access this,” Bogan says. “There’s guidance available to you to help counsel you, get you in the right programs, get you tutoring, and anything else that you need to put you on that pathway.”

Even once a student is accepted into college, LandCare is committed to seeing their team members’ children succeed all the way to graduation.

“This doesn’t stop with, ‘Here’s some money for school,’” Bogan says. “Students need support throughout the entirety of their schooling. The number of first-generation college students that start college and drop out is much, much higher. They need more help to stay in college, ride the ups and downs, and we’re building support for the students.”

Bogan says they did not start LEAF as a retention method. Instead, he sees this as an opportunity for those who have enjoyed more success in their lives to give back to other team members. It also makes a positive, lasting impact on the lives of their team members.

“This is another thing we do to show that we put our team members first and we’re deeply committed to improving their lives. Not just giving them a job, but truly improving their lives,” Bogan says. “This is one more way to show LandCare is different than what’s available out there at other places.”

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the content manager for NALP.