UPDATE: Council Approves REU Scholarship Program


Update 12/21/16 — The Redding City Council approved the Powering Redding’s Future College Scholarship and Technical School Grant Program in a 5-0 vote on Dec. 20. Applications and information are available at http://www.reupower.com/scholarships.

Redding Electric Utility (REU) will seek City Council approval Tuesday night for a new scholarship program designed to benefit local students and attract potential future employees.

The Powering Redding’s Future College Scholarship and Technical School Grant Program ties directly to REU’s 2020 Strategic Plan, which addresses the utility’s “imminent need to ‘attract, develop, and retain a qualified workforce’,” according to a report submitted to the council by REU Director Barry Tippin.

“By offering local students opportunities to earn robust scholarships and grants from REU, and potentially an internship with the utility, we believe we can grow local, young talent to fill some critical positions in the future,” Tippin said in an email.

REU’s strategic plan, which was approved by the City Council in January 2015, calls for an increase in the utility’s support of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs. During the past year, REU has increased its involvement in local STEM-related events, including participation in multiple junior high and high school career days, according to the council report.

Offering scholarships and grants to 18 local students each year would be another step in REU’s community outreach and sustainability efforts. If granted council approval, the utility would partner with Shasta Community Regional Foundation to manage and administer the Powering Redding’s Future program.

Foundation staff would collect and review grant and scholarship applications and make awards on the recommendation of an independent evaluation committee. The program would offer the following each year:

• Four scholarships of $5,000 to attend a four-year college or university to study STEM-related courses.

• Four scholarships of up to $3,500 to attend a four-year college or university to study non-STEM related courses.

• Four grants of $1,000 to attend a community college.

• Six grants of $2,000 to attend a technical school.

Two of the scholarships and one of the technical-school grants would be dedicated to students whose families are considered low-income, the report says.

In 2015, 910 students graduated from the Shasta Union High School District, according to district statistics cited in the report. Of those, only 44 percent have enrolled in college.

“One of the reasons our students struggle to enroll in higher education out of high school is finances,” Jim Cloney, superintendent of the Shasta Union High School District, said via email. “These scholarship and grant opportunities will directly help more local kids fulfill their potential and also help created the educated workforce that will lead Redding into the future.”

According to the report to the council, the program would cost $51,500 in the current fiscal year, with $10,500 funded from REU’s low-income Public Benefits Program budget and $41,000 funded through REU’s marketing budget. The program would redirect existing budgeted funds and not impact the General Fund, the report states.

If the program is approved, REU would join other electric utilities nationwide, including the Sacramento Municipal Utility District and Silicon Valley Power (Santa Clara), that offer college scholarships and grants as part of a strategy to attract local students to the industry. Some utilities offer paid summer internships to awardees, something REU will also consider.

“Our desire is to fill future vacancies with talented and educated youth from Redding,” Pat Keener, REU communications manager, said in an email.

Encouraging local young people to graduate from college or technical school and enter Redding’s workforce would be a win, Tippin said. “Our team considers this program an excellent, long-term investment in Redding’s future leaders,” he said.

Should the City Council approve the program, Powering Redding’s Future College Scholarship and Technical School Grant Program applications would be available online on Dec. 21. The first scholarship and grant deadline would be March 8. Check reupower.com/scholarships for information.

City of Redding employees and their immediate families would be ineligible for the program. Awardees must enroll in a college, university, or technical school in the fall of the year in which the scholarship was awarded.

Candace L. Brown

Candace L. Brown has been a newspaper and magazine reporter and editor since 1992, including eight years at the Redding Record Searchlight. She lives in Redding and can be reached at candace.freelance@gmail.com.

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