North Central Michigan College (NCMC) and Women's Resource Center of Northern Michigan (WRCNM) are the beneficiaries of a generous gift from Julie Fasone Holder and John Holder to establish a new mentorship and scholarship program for North Central students.

The Joint Endeavor for Women in Education and Leadership program (JEWEL) will promote education as a resource for empowerment and leadership by providing improved access to resources that address barriers disproportionately faced by women. The program focuses on academic success, leadership development and access to resources.

“This incredibly generous gift will have a huge and lasting impact on students,” North Central President David Roland Finley said. “The collaboration between NCMC and WRCNM has yielded significant results over the years, and we look forward to partnering on this new program aimed at increasing student success.”

“I am a passionate supporter of WRCNM and NCMC, and I believe these organizations working together can be exponentially more impactful for our community,” said Fasone Holder. “We wanted to create a program that will help students with financial and educational opportunities, provide a mentor to guide them, and demonstrate that an entire community is rooting for them. I want these students to feel empowered to build a better life for their family and achieve their life dreams along the way.”

Students of all backgrounds are welcome to apply for the JEWEL program. It is focused on those with financial need and limited educational support resources, and those who are among the first in their families to attend college.  Participants are guaranteed a $1,000 annual scholarship and may also apply for other WRCNM and NCMC scholarships to help cover educational and living expenses.

Participants will also attend JEWEL events, complete a student development course, connect monthly with a mentor and meet regularly with an academic advisor and student success coordinator.

Fasone Holder is part of a highly engaged advisory team who will work with the JEWEL program. Community members Sarah George, Jane Millar and Kelly Miller are three additional participants on the advisory team. The team will work with Thea Murray, North Central’s student success coordinator, and Stacey Burns, WRCNM campus coordinator.

“Students in the program will be those who may not have had traditional support throughout their education,” said WRCNM Executive Director Gail Kloss. “The goal of the program is to alleviate barriers students may be experiencing and help them on a path to enter the workforce or continue their pursuit of higher education.”

The partnership between NCMC and WRCNM began in 1977, when a group of local women gathered to meet the unique needs of women in the Petoskey community, including access to higher education. Previous North Central President Al Shankland facilitated the first WRCNM office on NCMC’s campus. Forty-five years later, the partnership is stronger than ever.

One of the WRCNM programs provided from this first office space was Education and Employment Services (EES), which supports women and their families while they focus on personal growth and lifelong learning. The Holders’ gift helps bolster funding for this program. North Central students can access EES services through WRCNM’s office on campus, including financial scholarships, career exploration, job search assistance, academic advising and the Working Wardrobe program, which provides funds for uniforms and professional work and interview clothing.

“The working relationship between NCMC and WRCNM has proven far beyond successful over the course of decades, and both partners look forward to community-wide impact for generations to come,” said WRCNM Development Director Kari VandenBrink.

Chelsea Platte, V.P. for advancement and NCMC Foundation executive director, agrees with VandenBrink.

“Together, we are building safe and thriving communities for all,” Platte said.