Ron and Jane (Tenhulzen) Olson, natives of Manilla and Denison, respectively, have funded a groundbreaking computer language scholarship designed to boost rural Iowa by connecting students surrounding Des Moines Area Community College’s Carroll and Perry campuses with modern technology skills and funneling them into higher-paying careers in Iowa.
The Olsons, active philanthropists in Los Angeles, have donated $61,200 to DMACC for the Ron and Jane Tenhulzen Olson Rural High Technology Career Scholarships.
Ron Olson, a prominent Los Angeles attorney and confidant of investor Warren Buffett, and Jane Olson, a former chair of Human Rights Watch, worked with Congressman Ro Khanna, D-California, on the scholarship concept aimed at bridging the rural-urban divide by creating more technology careers in the rural Midwest tied to Silicon Valley.
Khanna is fighting to extend digital job growth from Silicon Valley, which he represents in Congress, to rural reaches of the nation, places like Jefferson, which now has an Accenture computer software branch in large part because of Khanna’s advocacy.
The Tenhulzen Olson Scholarships are available for 2021 at DMACC and will fund up to $6,120 to cover the full tuition for the computer languages program.
“I so admire Ron and Jane’s commitment to Iowa and their roots,” Khanna said. “Ron has been a mentor to me for nearly two decades when I worked for him. We have been talking for years about the need for tech and business leaders to step up and do more for rural America and minority communities. Ron and Jane’s scholarship for rural and Latino students in rural Iowa to pursue tech careers is a stroke of brilliance. If every corporate leader in our nation had this level of vision, we would be able to bridge the divides and have widespread prosperity.”
The scholarships are awarded to students based on the following criteria:
— Student must be enrolled at DMACC.
— Student is pursuing a computer languages diploma at the Carroll or Perry campuses.
— Student resides in one of the following counties in Iowa: Audubon, Buena Vista, Calhoun, Carroll, Crawford, Dallas, Greene or Sac.
— Student is enrolled in a minimum of six credit hours.
At least five of the 10 scholarships will be awarded to Latinx students.
“Well, the good news is, No. 1, there are lots of great jobs out there for anyone that really wants a good career,” DMACC President Rob Denson said. “And No. 2, we’ve got people like the Olsons that remember their roots, and know how important it is to provide the wherewithal for students to come to DMACC to access these great jobs. Over 60 percent of the jobs will require no more than a two-year degree. And these are good jobs.”
Denson said Khanna is bringing Silicon Valley firepower to the community college level in Iowa.
“To have somebody with his ties and his skill set, and his platforms directly interested in DMACC is a real plus,” Denson said. “He is a great guy. He’s been to Central Iowa several times. I’ve met him over in Jefferson several times. He’s helped put DMACC on the map. He’s really going to have the platform to roll out what we do best as a national model. Congressman Khanna is just a great guy, great supporter of DMACC.”
Interested in the Computer Languages Scholarships?
Find more information here.