Build Dakota scholarship program and Dakota Provisions join forces

HURON — Saing Tun Lay and Hei Kyaw Toe are the latest Huron High School graduates to take advantage of a public-private partnership that will provide them with full-ride scholarships at Mitchell Technical Institute.
Funding for their continuing education is coming from the Build Dakota scholarship program as well as from their employer, Dakota Provisions.
Both are enrolled in MTI’s electrical construction program.
A few years ago, the Build Dakota initiative was begun with a $25 million contribution from philanthropist T. Denny Sanford and a $25 million match from the South Dakota Futures Fund.
The initial $50 million investment is in an account and drawing interest for scholarships across South Dakota.
“Roughly 300 scholarships a year are awarded for the Build Dakota scholarships, which covers tuition, fees, books and tools in high-need areas,” said Clayton Deuter, MTI’s dean of enrollment.
“To make that money stretch farther, the board felt it was important for us to find business partnerships,” he said.
Dakota Provisions is paying $8,000 to cover tuition, fees, books and tools in three of the four semesters and the Build Dakota scholarship money will pick up the rest.
Students are required to maintain at least a 2.5 grade point average and work for the employer for three years after graduation.
Deuter said in a straight Build Dakota scholarship, students must stay in South Dakota for three years. If they leave early, there is a repayment penalty, which is then used toward the next scholarship, he said.
MTI has had a 100 percent success rate with students sent to school in Mitchell from Dakota Provisions.
“We’ve never had a student leave early, or not do well,” Deuter said. “All of the students who have come out of Dakota Provisions have done very well.”
Dakota Provisions have also sent some students to MTI in a workforce recruitment program that doesn’t include the Build Dakota component.
MTI issues about 65 scholarships a year; there are about 300 statewide in the program.
Each school awards a little differently. Mitchell Technical Institute doesn’t have many one-year programs, but Southeast Technical Institute in Sioux Falls does, so they award more one-year scholarships.
MTI is working with 16 companies in the Build Dakota scholarship partnership.
Huron Regional Medical Center has a medical lab technician student enrolled and just signed a licensed practical nursing student.
Huron Clinic has done a workforce recruitment program for a medical assistant student.