Scholarship Recipient Shares His Story

Elroy Webster Coop Studies Fund scholarship recipient Brent Rempe, shared a letter of gratitude about how this scholarship and two other Cooperative Leadership Fund scholarships have not only supported his education but allowed him to attend training in Kenya, participate in an NCBA/CLUSA and USDA project in Senegal and his most recent venture spearheading an African development education project in Likunani, Kenya. Following is Brent’s letter:

The Ralph K. Morris Foundation is dedicated to building human capital within the cooperative movement by supporting the education and professional development of cooperators.  I personally have received funding from the Ralph K. Morris Foundation to support my education (The Elroy Webster Cooperative Studies Fund Scholarship) as I pursue a Ph.D. in Workforce Learning & Development at the University of Oklahoma.   My scholarship came at a time tuition had substantially risen since starting my degree program and I was questioning whether I could afford to continue my schooling.  Thanks in major part to the Foundation, I continued my doctoral pursuit and am now nearing degree completion and exploring the financial well-being of credit union employees as my dissertation topic.   

Further, being awarded two Cooperative Leadership Fund grants, I’ve been able to attend training in Africa which has advanced my understanding of the cooperative and credit union movement.  I participated in the International Credit Union Development Education Workshop in Lake Naivasha, Kenya in June 2017 and then in Africa SACCO (Savings and Credit Cooperative) Development Education Training in The Gambia followed by an agricultural cooperative study tour in Senegal in February 2018.   In Senegal, I witness cooperation across all stages of production and marketing of millet at an NCBA/CLUSA and USDA project.   The highlight of the trip was watching millet farmers participate in a cooperative savings club – I essentially witnessed the birth of a credit union!   These experiences have not only enhanced my knowledge of the cooperative model and furthered my commitment as a cooperator, but increased my intercultural competency and confidence to work internationally.

A ripple effect of the Ralph K. Morris Foundation’s support is my Africa Development Education Project in Likuyani, Kenya.  I spearheaded a successful crowdfunding campaign, raising over $10,000 USD mostly from credit union colleagues, to build a three classroom addition at Don Bosco Special School.  Don Bosco serves students with physical disabilities.  Additionally, I was able to secure an additional $10,000 through grants and corporate gifts to bring a team of four Oklahoma educators to Don Bosco in June 2018 to work with students and provide teacher trainings.  The group also met with Don Bosco administrators to identify gaps at the school and help set strategic goals to address those gaps.   The professional development experiences the Ralph K. Morris Foundation supported prepared me for this work.

The Ralph K. Morris Foundation is extremely deserving of the John Logue ACE Award.  The Foundation has certainly been a catalyst for change in my life and professional as a cooperator.