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Kell Memorial Fund Creates First Endowed
Blugold Promise Scholarship

RELEASED: March 8, 2006

John Kell
John Kell

EAU CLAIRE — When John Kell, who was president of Kell Container in Chippewa Falls, died last summer in a motorcycle accident, his wife, Betsy Kell, established the John Kell Memorial Fund with the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Foundation to honor the business leader, Blugold alumnus and active university supporter.

The outpouring of gifts from friends and businesses, including a recent $10,000 commitment from the company that bought Kell Container, Great Northern Corp. of Appleton, totaled nearly $50,000. The total number of memorial gifts received for the Kell Fund was among the largest in the Foundation's history, said Kimera Way, executive director of development at UW-Eau Claire.

Betsy Kell and her daughters, Sadie and Angela, recently designated the fund to endow the John Kell Memorial Blugold Promise Scholarship, which will be awarded for the first time this fall. Because of the large endowment, the fund will ultimately support two or three Blugold Promise Scholarships, Way said.

The first John Kell Blugold Promise Scholarship will be awarded to a deserving freshman from Wisconsin who will enter UW-Eau Claire in the fall, Way said.

The Kell Promise Scholarship is the first endowed scholarship in the Foundation's new Blugold Promise Scholarship Program, aimed at garnering donor support for two-year scholarships to be awarded to outstanding freshmen with limited means to pay for their college education, Way said. It will provide a scholarship of at least $500 for the freshman year and a $1,000 award for the sophomore year if the student remains focused and succeeds during their first year, she said.

"My daughters and I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of the many people who made gifts to John's fund," said Betsy Kell. "We are so grateful. We also are very proud of the scholarship and the fact that it will continue to grow so we can help more students. John knew about the Blugold Promise Scholarship Program and he was interested in supporting it. This scholarship does so much to help ensure John's wishes and dreams will continue."

The UW-Eau Claire Foundation established the Blugold Promise Scholarship Program in response to cuts in state allocations, which have forced tuition increases of more than 30 percent over the past two years, said Carole Halberg, UW-Eau Claire Foundation president.

"Today UW-Eau Claire is faced with the reality that its ability to sustain the concept of an accessible education for all who seek one embodied in the Wisconsin Idea is seriously compromised," said Halberg. "An increasing number of students are finding that the dream of a college education their parents took for granted will not be realized."

The Foundation has numerous scholarships for students who have been accepted to a specific academic program, usually in their junior year, Halberg said. "But there are limited resources for freshmen, and especially sophomores, who demonstrate academic success and the will to work to obtain their college degree. These students, now more than ever, need our help."

In addition to Betsy Kell, several other donors will support Blugold Promise scholarships that will be awarded this fall. The Foundation's goal is to support hundreds of these scholarships over the next few years, Halberg said.

Donors can make a two-year minimum commitment of $1,500, which could be increased incrementally if the donor wishes, Way said. An endowed Blugold Promise Scholarship, such as the Kell Promise Scholarship, requires a commitment of $20,000 over a five-year period, she said.

"These gifts will help ensure that the dream of a college education for many turns into reality," Way said.

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JW/JB

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