Businessman offers local high school students free college because it’s ‘the right thing to do’
iStock/Thinkstock(MINNEAPOLIS) — A local business tycoon has decided to foot the bill for two-years of college for dozens of high school seniors in Minnesota.
Dennis Frandsen, known around town as “Mr. Rush City,” has plunked down the funds for every willing Rush City High School senior and four home-schooled students to attend Pine Technical and Community College.
The 84-year-old’s established his own foundation called the Frandsen Family Foundation, and he’s giving back to the Minnesota town of Rush City where his company’s factory Plastech Corporation, a plastic products manufacturer, is the biggest employer.
With his offer to fund students’ education at the two-year school, Frandsen intends to help many who never considered college to have the opportunity to make their own luck and dream big.
“I realized, man, there’s a lot of opportunity for the students getting out of high school,” he told ABC News, pointing to the auto garages and electrician demands that need a skilled workforce.
He said that most students have “huge education bills” incurred at universities and colleges without any idea of how they’re going to pay for it.
“I call it a terrible anchor around their neck,” he said.
So when it came to thinking about a way to lend a hand, he looked locally.
“I decided these kids ought to have an option of going to the trade school,” he said. “I [will] cover the entire cost of going to trade school, including books and tools.”
Frandsen has raised his own family in the area, with many of them attending the high school he’s aiding now.
“I’ve raised my family in this community,” he said. “I have four children who all went to the same Rush City High School.”
Less than 10 percent of Rush City’s population goes on to earn a bachelor’s degree, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
“He got excited about getting more Rush City kids to go to Pine,” Joe Mulford, president of Pine Technical and Community College, told ABC News.
Mulford said that only one-third of Rush City High School’s 400 students go on to enroll in post-secondary education. Tuition at the community college — which specializes in an array of fields, such as nursing, machine tooling, and cybersecurity — can run around $5,000 each year.
Frandsen has already donated $50,000 for the expansion of the school’s robotics program, which came with no strings or criteria, Mulford noted. The funds will go to help the students get access to new technology and ultimately graduate earning “very livable wages and careers,” he added.
It took only a quick tour of the community college’s campus to convince Frandsen to seed this effort locally and let students learn without the burden of debt.
Since his announcement, Frandsen has been overwhelmed with an outpouring of support.
“I didn’t anticipate anything like this — I’ve been getting emails and cards from people from all over,” he said. “I’m not looking for any recognition or anything. I thought it was the right thing to do.”
Mulford estimated the community college may welcome 30 incoming students who will take advantage of Frandsen’s offer to pay for the school. There are no restrictions on what the student decides to do with their Pine college career, Mulford explained.
“Dennis is leading by example,” Mulford said. “Let’s see if it catches on with others.”
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