UND to provide scholarships for dependents of deceased and 100% disabled veterans

University of North Dakota News

GRAND FORKS - A new scholarship program by UND and the Heart of America Patriot Foundation aims to help UND students who are dependents of deceased or 100% disabled veterans.

The Heart of America Patriot Foundation specializes in such scholarships, and has partnered with a dozen institutions around the Midwest to make them a reality, said Al Gorthy, president of the Kansas-based Foundation.

As part of the new program, UND will provide $10,000 a year for the scholarships, and the Heart of America Patriot Foundation will match that amount. Through fundraising over the next few years, the University hopes to raise its annual contribution to $25,000, and the Heart of America Patriot Foundation also has promised to match up to that amount.

UND is the first institution in the Dakotas to sign a matching-fund agreement with the Heart of America Patriot Foundation.

“Our vision at the Foundation is of a nation where dependents of deceased or 100% disabled veterans can attain a debt-free college education,” said Gorthy, a retired captain in the U.S. Navy.

“We’re very proud to be partnering with the University of North Dakota to help these students attain their educational dreams.”

UND President Andy Armacost thanked the Foundation for its match and for the opportunity to further assist the nation’s veterans.

“One of the primary goals of the University of North Dakota’s strategic plan is to serve the needs of the military,” said UND President Andrew Armacost. “As an Air Force veteran, I’m proud to know that we’ve not only earned the reputation for doing this, but we’ve also gained recognition as one of the nation’s top military-friendly universities.

“Providing scholarship opportunities by working with the Heart of America Patriot Foundation is a continuation of our effort to deliver first-class education to the dependents of deceased and disabled veterans,” Armacost said. “UND is honored to be one of the universities providing scholarships in partnership with the foundation.”

An unmet need

The new scholarship focuses on addressing an unmet need of dependents of deceased or 100% disabled veterans, said Angie Carpenter, director of special student populations for UND.

Under the federal Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance program, dependents of deceased or 100% disabled veterans may qualify for a stipend from the Veterans Administration. But the stipend generally is enough to cover only living expenses, not tuition, books and fees.

“This new program is meant to help cover those costs,” Carpenter said. And that’s vital, because financial need tends to be a big reason why students interrupt or discontinue their educations without getting a degree, she added.

The Heart of America Patriot Foundation got its start in 2012, when the organization’s founders wanted to do something for veterans coming back to the Kansas City area from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The founders settled on the idea of a golf-tournament fundraiser; and to this day, the Foundation’s annual Patriot Benefit golf tournament remains the organization’s signature fundraising event.

Other sources of revenue include private donors and fellow nonprofits that support the Foundation’s mission.

Moreover, in the decade since 2012, the Foundation has learned about not only the unmet needs of dependents of deceased or disabled veterans, but also the power of partnering with colleges. For example, the partnerships call for the institutions and their financial-aid teams to decide how to distribute the scholarships. This means the Heart of America Patriot Foundation doesn’t have to process scholarship applications, allowing the all-volunteer organization to keep its expenses low.

Each year, the Foundation spends only about 1% to 2% of its revenue on administrative expenses. “So essentially all of our money – generally speaking, 98 cents on every dollar – goes to the universities, and subsequently to the students,” Gorthy said.

In years to come, the Foundation hopes to partner with a total of perhaps 20 institutions. If the Foundation gives $25,000 to each and then each institution matches that figure, the annual total will be about a million dollars a year for scholarships.

“We haven’t really advertised our story,” Gorthy said. “And we’re not on social media a lot. But we’ve got a great story to tell, and we’re so happy to be working with the University of North Dakota toward the goal of honoring veterans and educating their legacy.”