1986 is a year that is significant for anyone living in the Permian Basin at the time. That year marked the start of a dramatic downturn in the oilfield that left many without a job. As the foundation trustees watched this situation unfold around them, they did what good stewards do. They asked themselves how they could respond to the need. The decision was made to provide scholarships through Midland College to give students the opportunity to launch their post-high school career. To date, more than 20,000 students have benefited from Legacy.
In 2003, Helen Greathouse Charitable Trust partnered with Abell-Hanger Foundation, and the scholarship was renamed, Legacy. In 2006, a third Midland family, Harvey and Harriet Herd, through the Chaparral Foundation, joined this rich tradition of supporting MC students in their pursuit of higher education. That tradition continued to grow when Dorothy and Clarence Scharbauer, through the Scharbauer Foundation, united with the other three family foundations to support this great educational legacy.
In the Fall of 2019, the trustees approved modifications to the Legacy Scholarship program. When established in 1986, the intent was to create access for Midland students who wanted to launch their college education. At that time, it was particularly meaningful because many Midland families were feeling the pressure of an economic downturn. Creating access was critical to sustain the educational dreams of Midland youth.
The changes implemented focused on increasing student success, allowing them to make the most of the educational opportunity. The new Legacy provides students with academic coaches. Every first-year student is provided with a trained success coach. We have also added a Director to the Legacy model. The Director will ensure that Legacy Scholars are engaged in community service and develop their understanding of philanthropy. The Director will assist students as they navigate their first two years of college.
Additionally, the approved credentials (degrees & certifications) are now based on selected areas of study reflecting the Permian Basin workforce needs. When we have an economic upturn, we invariably find ourselves lacking in the number of trained workers in key areas impacting the oil and gas industry and other critical industries such as health care and education.
We will continue the community service expectation but have expanded the scope of the experience to include the variety of nonprofit volunteer experiences.
Perhaps the most exciting change is the addition of the Abell-Hanger Fellows program. Graduating sophomores who have completed the Leadership and Philanthropy Academy, are eligible to apply for the Fellows program. If accepted, they may transfer to a 4-year university (WTAMU, Texas Tech, UTPB, Angelo State, and Sul Ross University) with scholarship support for their final 2 years.
Visit the Midland College Legacy website.