MILWAUKEE – Statistics show that first-generation, low-income college students are four times more likely to leave higher education after their first year, and nearly half of those students who return will leave college without earning their degrees.1 Northwestern Mutual, through its Foundation, is working to change those statistics through its Milwaukee Neighborhood Scholarship Program, by awarding more than $85,000 in college scholarships to 12 first-generation students from the Amani, Metcalfe Park and Muskego Way neighborhoods.

“Giving local students opportunities to succeed in their post-secondary education ensures that we are developing future leaders of the community,” said John Kordsmeier, president, Northwestern Mutual Foundation. “First-generation students from lower income neighborhoods face a number of barriers such as financial resources. We are confident this group will succeed and these scholarships will help remove some of these significant hurdles.”

Additional obstacles for first-generation college students are lack of exposure to professional role models and limited networking knowledge. Northwestern Mutual is helping to eliminate these obstacles by matching each scholarship recipient with an employee mentor, with the goal of making sure that each student makes the transition from college to the their career path.  Earlier this year, nearly 75 students filled out applications detailing his or her academic achievements and community involvement to earn scholarships to eight eligible area college and universities. The 12 scholarship recipients who were selected are involved in a wide range of activities outside of the classroom including student government, community service and part-time jobs or internships. The scholarships are renewable and will increase in value for each year the student stays in school and achieves the set grade-point average.

This scholarship program helps address two of the Northwestern Mutual Foundation’s key focus areas: post-secondary education and neighborhoods. A thriving community is made up of educated and compassionate people, and Northwestern Mutual’s commitment to the Amani, Metcalfe Park and Muskego Way neighborhoods helps improve the quality of life for more than 70,000 people.