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Knowledge is power: Xcel Energy gifts create options

| Denise Olson

It is in part through the strength of our community partnerships that UW-Eau Claire is continually able to offer unique student opportunities and critical financial support each year. The Xcel Energy Foundation has been one of these steadfast partners since 1961. The Xcel Energy Foundation annual gift of $15,000 to the UW-Eau Claire Foundation goes to continued support of student scholarships, key outreach programs and high-impact practices that truly transform student learning.

"All of the programs supported by the Xcel Energy Foundation gift are major focus points for our guidepost goals and our strategic plan as a university. It's been rewarding to have such a strong corporate partner that understands the vital role of the university in this region and state," said Kimera Way, UW-Eau Claire Foundation president.

The UW-Eau Claire programs designated to receive funding from the annual Xcel Energy Foundation gift are:

  • The Xcel Energy Wisconsin Academic Excellence Scholarship and Xcel Energy Diversity Scholarships enable UW-Eau Claire to attract and retain outstanding students. UW-Eau Claire had the second highest number of Wisconsin Academic Excellence Scholars in the state for incoming freshmen in the last year. The WAES scholarships are awarded specifically to students in Wisconsin, while the Xcel Energy Diversity Scholarships are awarded to Wisconsin or Minnesota students. The Xcel Energy Diversity Scholarships have helped the university steadily increase the enrollment of diverse students, an institutional priority.
  • The Blugold Beginnings Program is designed to educate and inspire students — especially underrepresented, low-income or first-generation students — to believe that a post-secondary education is important, attainable and available at UW-Eau Claire and other institutions. Director of the Blugold Beginnings program Jodi Thesing-Ritter said, “The support we receive from Xcel Energy has allowed the Blugold Beginnings program to expand our reach in the region to engage more students in hands-on learning experiences that help close the opportunity gap and prepare more kids for post-secondary education.” The numbers of students served in 2016 is impressive:

          131 freshmen and sophomores mentored.                        
          308 youth summer campers.                           
          230 student mentors in local school districts.                           
          575 student mentors for 5th- and 8th-grade visits.                          
          1,935 5th-grade visitors.                    
  8th-grade visitors.

  • Funding from the Xcel Energy Foundation also supports high-impact practices on campus like cultural immersion and service-learning, described by most students as transformative experiences. “High-impact practices like intercultural immersion experiences are critical for preparing the next generation for work in a diverse workforce. The Civil Rights Pilgrimage is a tested example of such a high-impact practice that has made a difference in the lives of more than 1,000 UW-Eau Claire students in the last eight years. This opportunity would not be possible without the generous support of Xcel Energy,” said Thesing-Ritter, who oversees the Civil Rights Pilgrimage each year.
  • The Xcel Energy Mathematics Meet Scholarship is awarded to eligible high school students who have participated in the annual high school Mathematics Meet and plan to attend UW-Eau Claire immediately following high school graduation. In addition to scholarships to incoming Blugolds, the Xcel Energy Foundation funding also assists the mathematics department in all costs associated with hosting the meet each year. The spring 2016 meet hosted 46 teams from 20 area high schools for a day of competition.

For more information about how you or your organization can support programs and initiatives like those mentioned above, contact the UW-Eau Claire Foundation Inc.  about becoming a partner in educating the next generation of Blugolds.