The idea of ‘free college’ is a subject of debate as of late. Some argue that education is a right and others say they simply don’t want to pay the tax increases needed to implement such a policy. As the debate continues though, remember: charity is always an option.
As it happens, one wealthy Wisconsin businessman understands that idea very well. He’ll be using his money to give two entire graduating classes the gift of a lifetime. This is his story.
Luck Public Schools Superintendent Cory Hinkel had just received some very good news and he was anxious to speak to his seniors about it. Hinkel decided to call an assembly to announce it because the news was so monumental that it needed to be disseminated to the community in a big way.
As Superintendent Hinkel stood before the 2019 graduating class, he revealed the news they all came to hear. A local businessman and philanthropist had offered to pay for two years of technical college for all 34 graduating students. They couldn’t believe what they were hearing.
Hinkel, speaking to KARE11, explained how jubilant the students looked when he delivered the wonderful news. “The look on the kids’ faces was priceless,” he recalled. He added that he believes the donation will make a huge impact in many of the children’s lives. Especially some of those children who hadn’t thought college was even possible before them.
The scholarships that the businessman is offering are all for Pine City Technical College in Pine City, Minnesota. The two-year degree programs offered by the scholarship offers courses in nursing, education, automotive repair, gunsmithing, computer science, and other vocational trades. In addition to that, students will also receive a $1,000 stipend for books and tools.
Superintendent Hinkel added that the gesture and two years’ tuition is in fact far more important to these students than the billionaire benefactor might understand at first glance. Luck is a small community and many families of students there do not have the available resources to easily pursue higher education.
The cost of college these days is among the most expensive things that budding academics can invest in. With the constantly shifting economy and job market, it is also a more uncertain prospect than it had been in past years. Nevertheless, as Hinkel explains, “This just opens up doors for those whose doors may have been closed a little harder.”
Few Would Question
Giving money for an entire class to attend college is no small feat and not a cheap enterprise to become involved in. Clearly, a man of such generosity bears further investigation; if only to learn more about what sort of a man would be willing to give such a magnanimous gift. Then again, this isn’t the first time Dennis Frandsen has extended this offer to the students of Luck.
Dennis Frandsen was not always a billionaire. Nor was he born into money. His father was a dairy farmer who made his living through hard work and self-sacrifice. It was by this stellar example that Frandsen would model his own ascent to wealth and power, and it began just as he finished high school.
Ironically, Frandsen never attended college himself but entered the workforce almost immediately following high school. After graduating, Frandsen took a job logging trees near Luck, Wisconsin, the place he was born. It was thankless work, but necessary for him to make a living.
Frandsen’s hard work in the logging industry eventually paid off. A lifetime later and the now elderly billionaire owns 35 branches of his own Frandsen Bank and Trust in similar communities all across Minnesota and Wisconsin. He also oversees a collection of manufacturing companies and other banks in four states.
Born and Bred
Though Frandsen had been born in Luck, he moved to nearby Frederic, Wisconsin a year into high school because of better bus routes. After that, no matter how far his businesses took him, Frandsen always maintained roots with his hometown. He even bought his father’s old dairy farm after he got older.
Frandsen’s myriad businesses employ more than 1,000 people across four separate states. The Frandsen Corp., a private company, holds assets somewhere in the realm of about $1.5 billion. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that a man like Frandsen, a hometown boy, wants to give back to his community.
At first, Frandsen only paid for his grandchildren’s college educations. He had seen firsthand how difficult it had been for them to transition back to the workforce as they were laden with student debt. He compared it to “a terrible anchor around their neck,” and posited that it would be better if everyone to come out of college with no debt.
Spread the Wealth
As a pillar of his community and a great lover of education, Frandsen attends high school graduations quite regularly. Recently, he noticed that nearly all scholarships end up going to the very top students in the class. This was all well and good, but it left the average students, talented in their own right, out of luck.
“What about the average students?” he asked hypothetically, during a recent interview. “Are we just going to forget about them?” He added that he himself was always an average student as well, and a hard worker. Frandsen saw it as his mission to spread the wealth and opportunity around a bit to those who weren’t necessarily academically adept.
A Year Before
He began implementing this new scholarship in his hometown of Luck but also made the same offer to the 59-member graduating class at Rush City High School as well. All of whom were just as thrilled as the seniors at the Luck high school. “I thought it was the right thing to do,” said Frandsen.
In fact, Frandsen decided he would make the same two-year scholarship offer to Rush City’s class of 2019 as well. “I was able to do it and why shouldn’t I,” he said during the interview. The reason that he had chosen Pine City Technical was quite simple; he wanted to bring more skilled workers into the workforce.
The idea had actually come to Frandsen during a recent tour of the Rush City campus. He saw that the kids there needed help, they needed a head-start in life. He was impressed with the campus, and the students, but he could tell that these young people were just as deserving as their more intelligent peers. He wanted to make a true difference in his community.
Because he plans on doing it for the next few years, many of the 68 seniors slated to graduate in 2019 have already begun applying for scholarships from Frandsen’s corporation. Thus far, all of those students have been invited to meet with Frandsen prior to the graduation in order to plead their case.
The magnanimous billionaire has even extended the scholarship to the school’s four home-schooled students as well. Dennis Frandsen is an example of what those with wealth can accomplish if they choose to give back to the community.