The Northwestern Mutual Foundation is awarding more than$85,000in college scholarships to 12 first-generation students through its MilwaukeeNeighborhood Scholarship Program. The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. created the foundation to improve the lives of children and families in need.

Statistics show that first-generation, low-income college students are four-times more likely to leave higher education after the first year, and nearly half of those who return leave college without earning degrees.These students experience lack of exposure to professional role models and limited networking knowledge. Northwestern Mutual hopes to eliminate these obstacles by matching each scholarship recipient with an employee mentor. The goal is to assure that each student makes the transition from college to a career path.

This scholarship program helps address both post-secondary education and neighborhoods. Nearly 75 students filled out applications detailing academic achievements and community involvement to earn scholarships to eight eligible area college and universities. The 12 scholarship recipients are involved in a wide range of activities, including student government, community service and part-time jobs or internships. The scholarships are renewable and will increase in value for each year the student stays in school and achieves the set grade-point average.

"Giving local students opportunities to succeed in their post-secondary education ensures that we are developing future leaders of the community," saidJohn Kordsmeier, president, Northwestern Mutual Foundation. "First-generation students from lower income neighborhoods face a number of barriers such as financial resources. We are confident this group will succeed and these scholarships will help remove some of these significant hurdles."

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