Community member donating first-ever scholarship funds to ALC students

Jessica Stölen-Jacobson
Montevideo American-News

The Minnesota Valley Area Learning Center (ALC) serves students in four districts in the area, including Montevideo, Yellow Medicine East, Dawson-Boyd, and Lac qui Parle with several programs to meet student needs. Those programs include an individual learning program, a credit recovery program for students who are missing just a credit or two from area districts, and targeted services programs for students in grades 1st through 8th. The ALC’s seat-based program serves students who attend the school daily in grades 7th through 12th, and those students have not been eligible to apply for scholarships through the High School’s in the districts in which they reside as students of the ALC, but one community member in Montevideo hopes to change that.

Bev Knutson says she was inspired to reach out to the ALC to find out how she could donate to a scholarship fund there because she has for many years donated scholarships to students of Montevideo High School, but sees a need for the ALC to have a scholarship fund. “There are so many good kids who are going there, and they’re going on to college at Ridgewater and Morris, and other places. I would just like to start a scholarship at the ALC,” Knutson says. “I am making the first donation for scholarships there, but I wanted to let other people know that these kids are just as deserving of scholarships.”

ALC students are provided education through the school in an alternative setting. ALC employee Karen Jacobson explains, “It’s for kids who might not have been successful in their regular school. For some of them, it's because of bullying, some might benefit from a smaller classroom environment because our class sizes are very small. Kids are here for a number of different reasons, and we try to meet them where they’re at and help them to get the credits that they need and learn the knowledge and skills to be successful. Just like any other student, it’s just a different setting.”

Knutson began giving scholarships to Montevideo High School students after her husband Lowell passed away in 2014. “I’ve been giving scholarships in his memory every year, giving $1,000 per year. Sometimes I give $500 to two people, sometimes $200 to five people,” she says. The Scholarship is titled The Bev and Lowell Family Scholarship. “It just makes me feel good to be doing that because I feel it’s a worthwhile thing to give to,” Knutson adds. 

ALC employee Katie Raymo says that the scholarship program may take some time to develop, but that the school hopes to be able to give out a couple of scholarships this Spring. “It was a great idea on her part. It will take some time to develop, but we’re hoping to get more donors so that our students who are planning to attend college have more opportunities,” Raymo says.

Jacobson says students at the ALC have taken part in a number of opportunities over the years. “A couple of years ago, we had a number of students go through the Welding program at Minnesota West. That was pre-COVID, of course. They got their college degree before they had even finished their high school degree,” she says. Jacobson also stresses that students who choose an alternative education are, like any student, kids who are looking to make a difference in their future. “They’re looking at post-secondary education. We have kids pursuing all kinds of opportunities. Some of them are looking to get out into the workforce, but others are looking at college,” she says. 

If anyone has any questions, they can contact Katie Raymo at the ALC (320-269-9297) or mail donations to the Minnesota River Valley Education District PO Box 487, Montevideo MN 56265.