Scholarship Program Unveiled for Manistee County


Launch Manistee has announced plans for a Manistee County Commitment Scholarship Program in partnership with West Shore Community College (WSCC) and a variety of other partners.

The program will promise a college education to select Manistee County ninth graders who show academic promise and have financial need. In addition to receiving a full-tuition scholarship to the college for up to three years and 60 credit hours, selected students and their families will benefit from complimentary programs that provide academic, social, and financial support. 

The scholarship program is currently under development for anticipated launch in the fall 2016.

Martha and Bill Paine have made an initial commitment to develop and underwrite the program for the first five years. Assuming success, the Paines intend to extend the program for an additional five years. 

The Paines were looking to support a program for Manistee County youth and families that would change lives and open doors to a college-going culture. They were looking for a program that requires a commitment between Launch Manistee, the college, county schools, community partners, students, and their families--an innovative, cooperative partnership they could support with enthusiasm and passion. 

They asked Mary Ann Behm, Launch Manistee program coordinator, to present them with a “wow” idea that would be the carrot used to open the door to college for students with financial need and pave the way for them toward a bright future and the scholarship program fit the mold.

Behm identified some of the documented needs which led to the decision to establish a scholarship commitment program. 

As reported during College Application Week in Oct. 2015, at least 40% of Manistee County high school seniors stated they would be the first generation in their family to attend college.  In addition, according to Michigan Kids Count Data Profile 2015, 25.8% of Manistee County children ages 0-17 live in poverty and 59.6% Manistee County students are eligible for free/reduced student lunches.

“The scholarship program will help make a college education possible for more Manistee County students by removing financial and social barriers,” states Behm.

Launch Manistee received support from Northwestern Michigan College (NMC) who established a commitment scholarship program in 1993, and WSCC to help shape the vision.  Launch Manistee will be working closely with the six area Manistee County high schools, WSCC, NMC, the Manistee County Community Foundation, and other key partners to begin this program next fall and anticipates the first scholarships will be awarded to members of the class of 2020.

"The establishment of the Manistee County Commitment Scholarship Program speaks not only to Martha and Bill’s incredible generosity but also to their commitment to higher education," WSCC President Kenneth Urban said. "Thanks to their gift, even more students will have access to West Shore’s time-honored education, preparing them to engage in well-rounded, meaningful careers. We’re extremely grateful for Martha and Bill’s gift, and for their continued commitment to our college."

The Manistee County Community Foundation will provide administrative and fiscal management for Launch Manistee and the Manistee County Commitment Scholarship Program. 

Further information may be obtained by contacting Behm at

Author: Thomas Hawley | Executive Director of College Relations