From left are Landyn Teachout,  Elizabeth Cruz-Pablo and Ethan Cordes.

Thompson scholarships help more than 1,150 students

More than 1,150 Grand Valley students have received scholarships from a philanthropic Michigan couple who believes in the power of education and its ability to make a significant difference in someone's life.

Bob and Ellen Thompson, through their Thompson Foundation, have given more than $11.5 million to Grand Valley, supporting students through the Thompson Working Families and University Prep Academy scholarship programs. 

Ethan Cordes, who is majoring in exercise science, said receiving the Thompson Working Families Scholarship (the university's largest scholarship program) allows him to "focus 100 percent on school" and not worry about taking out loans to finance an education.

Communication studies major Landyn Teachout also earned a TWFS and said it will greatly reduce her college debt. 

"During the summer months I work at Target full time and during the school year I am a resident assistant," Teachout said. "The Thompson scholarship will go a long way to help pay for school. It has always been my goal to pay for the majority of my college experience through working and obtaining scholarships."

Domonique Palmer, center, laughs with Bob and Ellen Thompson at a 2019 reception.
Domonique Palmer, center, laughs with Bob and Ellen Thompson at a 2019 reception.
Image Credit: Kendra Stanley-Mills

Reception celebrates Thompsons

More than 100 Grand Valley students, President Philomena V. Mantella and other university leaders met and thanked the Thompsons during a 2019 event at the L. William Seidman Center on the Pew Grand Rapids Campus. 

Domonique Palmer, who graduated from Grand Valley in 2020, attended that event. Palmer and her twin sister, Monique Palmer, were the first two from their family to attend college. When they were accepted into Grand Valley, receiving Thompson scholarships as University Prep graduates was a huge relief.

“I was not going to be able to go to college without this financial stability. When I work, I can spend money on other things, rather than putting it toward tuition,” Domonique said. “I did everything right to prepare myself for college. Money was the biggest obstacle."

University as partners

The Thompsons have partnered with Grand Valley State, Saginaw Valley State and Michigan Technological universities and the Thompsons' alma mater, Bowling Green State University, in Ohio.

Students who receive Thompson Working Families Scholarships must maintain a specified grade point average and commit to community service hours. Universities agree to provide resources to maintain high cohort graduation rates.

Michelle Rhodes, associate vice president for Financial Aid, said Grand Valley students have tallied more than 35,730 service hours since the program was established.

Read more about the Thompsons and the scholarship program in this Grand Valley Magazine article.

Graduates give Thompsons credit

Tamara Bailey and Amanda Dotson were recipients of the University Prep Academy Scholarship, a fund established by Bob and Ellen Thompson that provides renewable college scholarships to graduates of the Detroit charter school. Those scholarships and hard work led Bailey and Dotson to careers in other states.