Ascendium is celebrating its 10th year of the Tools of the Trade Scholarship Program with a record breaking 771 apprentices receiving scholarships for a total of $1,542,000. Since 2013, Ascendium has awarded scholarships to eligible construction and industrial trade apprentices in the Wisconsin Technical College System to assist with expenses related to their apprenticeship including the purchase of tools, equipment and clothing, curriculum costs and more.
Ascendium sees apprenticeship as an opportunity for upward mobility by providing learners with a pathway to a well-paying job, particularly for those from low-income backgrounds. We know that financial pressure can make it hard for learners to complete apprenticeships, especially if they are juggling school, work and family.
It's why we're pleased to support construction and industrial trade apprentices like Alex Pedretti, a plumbing apprentice at Western Technical College, who is already making a difference in his community through his trade. Alex described a job where he got to help someone in need – an elderly woman who needed a drainpipe replaced at her home. The drain was rotting and completely overtaken with roots from a large maple tree in her backyard. Through hard work, Alex and his crew were able to get the drainpipe replaced in a timely manner.
"She was completely astonished that we were able to come and get her plumbing up and running the same day," Alex said. "It was a ton of work but very rewarding to be able to serve her so well. She was unable to go downstairs to see our work, but we were able to take a video of all that we had done, and her big smiles and thanks were the icing on the cake for us."
He is appreciative of the scholarship because it will help "fill the gap," especially with the rising costs of living pinching his family's budget. The scholarship will help Alex focus on fulfilling his career goal to complete his apprenticeship and get his journeyman's license.
Alex isn't alone — in fact, many apprentices that received a scholarship this year shared how the funds will help them overcome challenges such as paying for gas or vehicle repairs as they commute many miles to attend class or work. Others will use the scholarship to purchase their own tools so they don't have to borrow from others; pay for books and other tuition-related costs; and make up for pay cuts they may have taken to begin a new career in the trades.
The Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) plays an important role in enrolling apprentices so they can complete their related classroom hours and secure an in-demand job. Technical colleges also serve as places for apprentices to connect, share experiences and work as a team. Ascendium shares WTCS's recognition of apprenticeships, and we're pleased to help apprentices across the statewide system overcome financial barriers to career success.
"The Wisconsin Apprenticeship model was the first of its kind and continues to provide innovative educational opportunities for students across the state," said Dr. Morna K. Foy, president of the Wisconsin Technical College System. "Apprentices begin earning immediately, are paid wages during classroom instruction, avoid college debt and have an on-ramp to lifelong learning. We are grateful for the generosity of Ascendium for the opportunities their scholarships open for apprenticeship students at all 16 Wisconsin technical colleges."
To learn more about Ascendium's philanthropy, please visit ascendiumphilanthropy.org.
2022-2023 Tools of the Trade Scholarship Recipients
Blackhawk Technical College
Chippewa Valley Technical College
Fox Valley Technical College
Gateway Technical College
Lakeshore Technical College
Mid-State Technical College
Milwaukee Area Technical College
Moraine Park Technical College
Northcentral Technical College
Northeast Wisconsin Technical College
Northwood Technical College
Southwest Wisconsin Technical College
Waukesha County Technical College
Western Technical College
Ascendium Education Group is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to helping people reach the education and career goals that matter to them. Ascendium invests in initiatives designed to increase the number of students from low-income backgrounds who complete postsecondary degrees, certificates and workforce training programs, with an emphasis on first-generation students, incarcerated adults, rural community members, students of color and veterans. Ascendium's work identifies, validates and expands best practices to promote large-scale change at the institutional, system and state levels, with the intention of elevating opportunity for all. For more information, visit https://www.ascendiumphilanthropy.org.