Students currently applying for scholarships from a Lansing, Mich.-area credit union may have a bit more pressure to write memorable essays as part of their applications – this year’s winners are set to be published in the local newspaper, which has an estimated circulation of more than 40,000 readers.

LAFCU has partnered with the Lansing State Journal newspaper for the credit union’s annual “Write to Educate” essay contest, which will see the credit union award $2,500 in scholarships to two high school seniors. Entrants must submit a one-page essay responding to two questions: “Why is the credit union philosophy of ‘People helping people’ important?” and “How can you embody this principle in your community, on your college campus or through volunteerism?”

Elizabeth Rushford, second from right, winner of 2017 scholarship essay contest from Lansing, Mich.-based LAFCU. From left, Kelli Ellsworth Etchison, LAFCU SVP of marketing; Morgan Brown, senior member service representative; Rushford, and Alyssa Sliger, marketing and communications specialist.
Elizabeth Rushford, second from right, winner of 2017 scholarship essay contest from Lansing, Mich.-based LAFCU. From left, Kelli Ellsworth Etchison, LAFCU SVP of marketing; Morgan Brown, senior member service representative; Rushford, and Alyssa Sliger, marketing and communications specialist.


In addition, each winner can select from one of three local charities (Big Brothers Big Sisters-Michigan Capital Region, Building Twentyone or the Shiawassee Community Foundation Youth Advisory Council) to receive a $500 donation from LAFCU. All entrants must be planning to attend either Lansing Community College or Baker College in nearby Owosso, Mich.

According to Kelli Ellsworth Etchison, LAFCU’s SVP of marketing, the credit union has run the essay competition since 2009, but this marks the first time the credit union has partnered with the newspaper and the first time an outside sponsor has ever been involved.

Kelli Ellsworth Etchison, SVP of marketing at Lansing, Mich.-based LAFCU
Kelli Ellsworth Etchison, SVP of marketing at Lansing, Mich.-based LAFCU

“The [Lansing State Journal’s] engagement editor reached out to us, wanting to support LAFCU’s community effort in helping area youth attain their educational goals locally,” she explained. “The LSJ had held a similar writing contest, but due to budget constraints, was not able to provide scholarship money.”

Ellsworth Etchison explained that the newspaper has “excellent connections” with local school districts, especially with English teachers, and a “great reader base that appreciates stories such as these.”

The credit union received more than 50 entries last year but is expecting increased interest this year, due in part to the newspaper’s participation.

Ellsworth Etchison added that LAFCU was “especially interested” in having the LSJ publish the winning essays, which are “extremely inspiring and promote confidence in our next generation of leaders.”

“The Lansing State Journal is a proud partner in the LAFCU scholarship contest,” Lansing State Journal Engagement Editor Matt Hund said in a statement. “Through efforts like these, we help connect young people to opportunities that help them realize their full potential and share their stories across Greater Lansing.”

Winners will be selected by LAFCU’s six-member Scholarship Selection Committee. The committee is comprised of marketing, member services, human resources and accounting staff members.

“They are volunteers who have expressed interest in reading and scoring the essays,” Ellsworth Etchison explained.

The deadline for entries is April 30 and winners will be selected on May 11.

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