Samiksha Patel is getting her associate degree with help from a Medallion Fund scholarship. (Courtesy photo)

Samiksha Patel is getting her associate degree with help from a Medallion Fund scholarship. (Courtesy photo)

“I would like to do something extraordinary in my field”

A partnership with the Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation means that students who had faced barriers to opportunity are getting degrees, technical training and certificates to help them succeed in NH's workforce

Tia Ribeiro of Nashua had been working a fast-food job, but wanted to become a Licensed Nursing Assistant. She had a seemingly insurmountable hurdle to clear first: The $1,650 in tuition and fees for a six-week program that would allow her to become an LNA and start to move up the economic ladder.

New Hampshire generosity helped her clear that hurdle.

Tia received a scholarship that covered $1,250 of that fee, and she was able to cover the remainder.

Her scholarship came as a result of a partnership between the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation and the Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation that will give hundreds of New Hampshire residents the opportunity to get training and education to move quickly into high-wage, rewarding jobs in New Hampshire.

Students have received scholarships to study computer programming, nursing, to get training required for commercial truck-driving licenses – and more.

The Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation made a $250,000 grant to establish the new fund, which is administered by the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation’s student aid program. Generous New Hampshire families added matching contributions. That combined generosity is allowing the Charitable Foundation to nearly double the number of scholarships awarded for short-term education and workforce training over three years.

Awards are given to students in professional training, certificate programs and two-year degree programs working to earn credentials in high-demand fields – including traditional trades, advanced manufacturing, financial services, health care and information technology.

The program focuses on students who experience barriers to opportunity: New Americans, those with significant financial need, and students who are the first in their families to attend college.

Samiksha Patel (pictured, above) is not only the first woman in her family to attend college – she is the first woman from the entire village where she was born ever to attend college. When she came to America to join her husband in 2016, she had already begun pursuing a degree in India, but was not yet fluent in English. Now, she is getting straight-As in an associate degree program in computer programming at NHTI while caring for her aging in-laws, working a part-time retail job and doing work-study. The scholarship is allowing her to take a full course load this semester.

“I am really thankful for that,” she says. “It is going to help me to finish more quickly.”

When Patel finishes her associate degree, she will go right to work in her field – and start working part-time on her bachelor’s degree. “I would like to go further and do something extraordinary in my field,” she says.

Bob Rivers, Chair and CEO of Eastern Bank, said “This partnership represents the perfect alignment of Eastern’s mission as a social enterprise and the needs of business. Helping students who are the first in their family to attend college, for example, gain access to opportunity through education and workforce training is not only the ‘right thing’ to do, but also the ‘smart thing’ to do, as we and other businesses depend upon the further growth and vibrancy of the workforce and our communities throughout New Hampshire.”

Eastern Bank has focused significant recent grantmaking towards supporting immigrants in our communities.

“Without immigration, the population and economy of New England would not be growing,” Rivers said. “As they always have been, New Americans are a very significant economic and cultural driver without which the health of our communities would be in peril.”

This new scholarship fund is a part of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation’s New Hampshire Tomorrow initiative, a 10-year, $100-million effort to increase opportunities for young people.

Students may apply for scholarships through the Charitable Foundation’s online application: www.nhcf.org/medallionfund.