The Annexstads have long held an impassioned belief that exceptionally bright young people who have little or no means to go to college, and who have endured extraordinary hardship in their young lives, have great potential to one day become leaders in their chosen fields. Students of high moral character, grit and intelligence are chosen to receive renewable scholarships with an objective of earning an undergraduate degree in four years. Leaders for Tomorrow scholars earn their undergraduate degrees as free from debt as possible.
Losing parents to untimely deaths in their youth, both Al and Cathy Annexstad, founders of the foundation, experienced the power of mentoring as their communities and families rallied around them in their formative years. The Annexstads’ deep, personal appreciation of how caring adults and an opportunity for higher education can influence a young person who has been impacted by hardship has led to over 750 scholarships being awarded across the nation since 2000.
“The University of Mississippi’s rich academic excellence and history of producing leaders in many fields is not only important for the state of Mississippi, but will ultimately produce future leaders for America,” Annexstad said. “Higher education is truly a great equalizer in life. It allows us as a nation to tap into a vast resource of desperately needed human capital. Equipping these talented scholars with world-class educations represents a significant investment in our nation’s future as they go on to make meaningful contributions to society.”
To date, the Annexstad Family Foundation has awarded over 600 scholarships to students at colleges and universities across the country.
University of Mississippi Foundation President Wendell Weakley said the Annexstads decided to award scholarships to UM students after accompanying their granddaughter on a campus visit.
“About a week after their visit, we got a call from the Annexstad Foundation saying they were interested in establishing a scholarship here,” Weakley said. “Al is truly the ideal philanthropist. He loves to give back when he knows it will make a difference.”
Indeed, the Annexstad Family Foundation is well on its way toward achieving Al and Cathy Annexstad’s goal of sending 1,000 young people to college. Most notably, the Annexstad Family Foundation proudly points to a nearly 90 percent graduation rate among scholarship recipients, an extraordinary achievement considering that the majority of Annexstad Scholars are first-generation college students. Today, Annexstad graduates are successfully pursuing careers in medicine, business, science, engineering, law and other critical fields.
By Katie Morrison