For more than 50 years, the AriensCo Foundation has been a mainstay in Brillion, Wisconsin. It’s the same city where the Ariens family constructed its first factory, and where AriensCo has called home ever since. In its half-century of existence, the foundation has donated millions of dollars to help Brillion youth pursue education through a variety of avenues.
The foundation’s focus on Brillion is built into its DNA. Of the seven people who sit on its board, two are from the local Brillion community, and they ensure that the AriensCo Foundation stays true to its roots. The board keeps constant watch on the needs of its community and pours resources into educating children wherever it can.
Mark Olsen, AriensCo CFO, has been serving the foundation for three years and has played an instrumental role in helping lead the foundation towards continued success.
“It’s important for our board to have members of the Brillion community on it so that we can focus our efforts and support on improving the quality of life for all within our communities,” he said. “Our main area of focus is education. We provide financial assistance to local area schools that support and promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education.”
Olsen said that the foundation has also made considerable multi-million-dollar contributions to both the Brillion Middle School and Brillion High School, to install and assist the schools with STEM programs. For 2018, the education contributions totaled more than $140,000.
“The foundation’s goal has always been to focus on educating our students,” Olsen said. “There’s great demand not only in our community of Brillion, but across the country for STEM education. It’s exciting for us to offer our resources and give back to the community.”
It’s not just Brillion students that benefit from the AriensCo Foundation. Kids from around the state are jumping at the chance to study in Brillion because of its advanced STEM training. In Wisconsin, the School Choice Program enables students to attend schools in districts they don’t live. Both Brillion Middle School and Brillion High School have seen an influx of roughly 100 students from outside the district, for example, all wanting to study STEM skills in the city that birthed AriensCo.
Scholarships are another way that the AriensCo Foundation is supporting Wisconsin youth. The foundation offers a college scholarship award, as well as a technical scholarship award to students in the state. Students from Brillion, Hilbert, and Reedsville, Wisconsin, have won scholarships through the program.
“A large component of the foundation is awarding annual scholarships to children from the local community,” Olsen said. “The scholarship program evaluates student applications based on an essay submissions, as well as the student’s grades. In 2018 alone we awarded 15 scholarships, seven of which went to students from Brillion High School, and the remaining eight were from Janesville, Forest Junction, Chilton, Potter, Hilbert, Whitelaw and Reedsville, Wisconsin; and Auburn, Nebraska.”