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Keller Funds SHRM Foundation's 2008 Scholarships

By Susan Lackey   3/4/2008

Every year, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Foundation awards 100 regional scholarships to individuals interested in human resource education or in advancing their certification. In 2008, the J. J. Keller Foundation, Inc. donated $100,000 to fully cover the year’s scholarship program.

“This program is a perfect fit for our foundation’s focus area of education,” said Marne Keller-Krikava, director of strategy and business planning for J. J. Keller & Associates and a member of the J. J. Keller Foundation board of directors. “The scholarship program aligns nicely with our mission and it’s a great way to make a difference in the lives and careers of HR professionals.”

The SHRM Foundation awards 100 scholarships a year: 40 academic scholarships at $1,375 each and 60 certification scholarships at $750 each. Eight academic and 12 certification scholarships are given to recipients in each of five geographic regions: the Northeast, Southeast and Caribbean Atlantic, North Central, Southwest Central, and Pacific West and Asia Pacific regions.

National SHRM members working full- or part-time in HR are eligible for an academic scholarship. Scholarship applicants are assessed largely on merit, with judges looking specifically at work experience, involvement in the HR community, volunteer activity, financial needs and letters of reference.

With a husband and two sons, Michelle Land Harris, PHR, who had been out of school for 20 years, had reservations about returning to complete her bachelor’s degree largely due to the high costs of tuition, books and fees.

“The scholarship allowed me to be able to afford to return to school without putting too much of a financial burden on our family,” said Harris, HR representative at Evansville Courier Co. in Indiana. “I knew that I could afford to pay what the scholarship did not cover.”

After receiving a $1,375 academic scholarship from the Foundation in 2007, Harris, still working full-time and remaining involved in her HR and community organizations, went on to take a business law class during the fall semester at University of Southern Indiana, in which she earned an A.

SHRM members interested in acquiring PHR, SPHR, GPHR or California certification or chapters and state councils looking for funds to put toward classes for their members can apply for certification scholarships. Individual recipients are chosen based on work experience, volunteer activity and financial need, while chapters and state councils are judged based on plans for use of funds, financial need and matching funds available.

A PHR in 2007, Ruth Ewert, recruiting and employee relations manager at Chelan County Public Utility District, was interested in earning her SPHR certification but found the cost of study materials, examination fees and travel expenses to testing facilities to be prohibitive. However, after receiving a SHRM Foundation certification scholarship, Ewert went on to pass her SPHR, helping to advance her career.

“It’s very rewarding to have completed the SPHR certification. The certification is widely viewed as demonstrating success and expanding functional expertise,” Ewert said. She added that skills learned through her advanced certification allow her to advise senior management on strategic talent acquisition.

Recipients said that the scholarship not only provides a launching point for their continued development within the HR community, but that it also evokes a more emotional inspiration to succeed.

“I think the biggest things I got from receiving the scholarship was a huge boost to my confidence as I jumped back into the whole ‘student’ scene,” Harris said. “I would have never even attempted [going back to school] without having received the SHRM Foundation scholarship. I feel that I not only have to succeed for myself, but that I also have an obligation to all the other HR professionals who have invested in my endeavors by donating to the SHRM Foundation.”

Founded in 1953 by John J. "Jack" Keller, J.J. Keller & Associates started as a one-man consulting business and grew into a publishing, printing and service organization with more than 300,000 customers in North America. The privately held company provides companies with practical help in meeting complex government regulations.

“My grandfather established the family foundation in celebration of my grandmother’s birthday in 1991,” Keller-Krikava says, “and since that time, more than $17 million has been given to non-profit causes. The SHRM partnership is a unique one for us, and I look forward to seeing the effect the scholarship program has on the profession. We believe strongly in collaborating with other organizations for an even greater impact.”

Since the scholarship donation, the SHRM Foundation has found new uses for the $100,000 that it originally had allocated to fund the regional scholarships.

“The money will be invested in the Foundation’s research program. We have funded over $566,000 in research this year, which we will pay out over the next three years,” said Karen Silberman, Executive Director of the SHRM Foundation. “This is a 700 percent increase in funding over 2006 levels. We anticipate funding at a similar level in 2008.”

The scholarship application deadline for 2008 is July 15. Recipients will be notified on Sept. 30. To learn more about applying for regional scholarships, visit the SHRM Foundation at http://www.shrm.org/foundation/EducationGrants.asp .

“If you believe in your dreams and know that you want to continue developing within the HR field, you should apply for this scholarship,” Harris said. “It’s tough for HR professionals to make the leap and go back to school, especially if they’ve been away from school for a long time. I’m proof that it can be done and this scholarship can help make it happen.”

Susan Lackey is an intern in the SHRM Online Editorial Department.

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