Burleson Opportunity Fund
For a little over a decade, the Burleson Opportunity Fund has helped pave the course for hard-charging youngsters by doling out 900 scholarships worth more than $1 million to Burleson students, officials said.
Upping the ante at the October 12 “Breakfast of Champions,” Mayor Ken Shetter announced to a packed audience at First United Methodist Church that the scholarship program will now be able to provide students with a four-year college education.
“I’m happy to tell you this morning we have made great progress,” Shetter said. “We are able to fulfill our promise. You can now get a four-year degree in Burleson without ever having to leave the community.”
Hundreds of benefactors, residents and area officials were served a breakfast of fruit, eggs and pigs in a blanket by past scholarship winners from Hill College.
Shetter explained to the audience that after two years in Hill College, students covered by opportunity fund can enroll in a Texas Tech online program available to students in Burleson for two additional years of schooling.
“Hill College formed this partnership with Texas Tech a few years ago,” the mayor said. “We will also begin to work with Texas Tech to have an in-person presence in Burleson as well. I’m happy to tell you this morning we have made great progress.”
During the program, three prominent recipients of the Burleson Opportunity fund, Angela Trompler, Jacqueline Moore and Kristen Reynolds, each gave impassioned accounts of the difference the fund made in their lives.
Trompler, a 2009 graduate of Burleson High School, is now nurse manager of the medical oncology unit at Texas Health Huguley. She is currently enrolled in her master of nursing leadership and amendment program at Western Governor’s University.
Moore, a 2015 BHS graduate, is currently enrolled in the TCU Harris College of Nursing program where she plans to obtain a bachelors of science in nursing in the fall of 2019. She hopes to work at Cooks Children Medical Center in Fort Worth.
Kristen Reynolds, who graduated in December 2011, is a first year educator teaching fourth grade math and science at Clinkscale Elementary School. She graduated from Texas Wesleyan in December 2016 with a bachelor of science in education.
The mayor also had a separate, but equally huge announcement for the audience.
He announced the creation of “Burleson Works,” which he described an opportunity for students and citizens in the community to gain technical skills that will benefit local companies.
Burleson Works is a joint program of the Burleson Opportunity Fund and the Burleson Economic Development Corporation. The Burleson Works scholarship is privately funded through the program’s industry partners as well as the Burleson Economic Development Corporation.
This new program aims to fill the skills gap in Burleson’s labor market through partnerships with local and regional schools.
“Expanding higher education opportunities for Burleson residents has been a top priority for the city council for the past decade,” Shetter said in a statement issued after the breakfast. “Having awarded more than 900 scholarships, the Burleson Opportunity Fund has been great for families and has been an important component of our very successful economic development program. Development of the Burleson Works program as an extension of the Burleson Opportunity Fund is the logical next step.”
The pilot program will pair Burleson residents with local companies that have positions to fill, then provide the resident with the technical training needed. Once courses are complete, the scholarship recipient will be employed at a company right here in Burleson.
“Partnering with the city and local colleges for the Burleson Works program will help to create a stronger talent pool within the Burleson area that we can employ,” Vice-President of Operations Daniel C. DeJarnette of F-Wave, a solar cell roofing company, said in the same release. “We are a startup business with aggressive growth plans within the city of Burleson and it cannot be achieved without the right individuals on our team to push it forward.”
Burleson Works will focus on training in technical fields such as welding, engineering, machinery, software development, industrial maintenance, automotive and more. Each year, Burleson Works industrial partners will be surveyed to determine what positions will be vacant in the upcoming 12-to-24 months. Scholarships will be provided to applicants based on the specific needs of the partners. Local companies will have an opportunity to interview the applicants before the scholarship is awarded. If selected, the applicant will begin training through one of the program’s educational partners including Hill College, Tarrant County College, Texas State Technical College and University of Texas at Arlington.
The program is open to anyone who lives within the city limits of Burleson. Starting Jan. 1, interested participants can complete an application on the Burleson Works website. All documents are due by March 15 with interviews taking place between March 15 and April 30. Recipients will be notified no later than May 15.
Currently, the program will partner with the following community leaders: Chicken Express Distribution Center, Air Force Airguns, LKQ Corporation, Wagner-Smith Equipment Company, F-Wave, KWS Manufacturing, Dunaway Associates, Campbell’s Auto Body, Thomas Conveyor, Inc., Hayes & Stolz Industrial Manufacturing Company, Basden Steel Corporation, RenWeb, United Cooperative Services, Burleson ISD, Burleson Chamber of Commerce, Texas Workforce Solutions and the higher education partners above.
The Breakfast of Champions, which began with comments from Burleson ISD Superintendent and BOF chair Bret Jimerson, also honored the Baker Foundation and the Athena Society as “Champions of Education.”
Mayor Shetter said community contributions were key to the fund’s success.
“It’s because of you that we have reached that number (900),” Shetter said. “The thing that put us on a rocket ship and has allowed us to significantly increase the scholarships was when we started this breakfast and got the community involved in a big way. So it is thanks to you.”