Every year, hundreds of families across the United States are devastated by the loss or serious injury of a parent at work – a bread winner and loved one who suddenly has died in the course of their work or tragically injured with little prospect of returning to their chosen career.

Those work-related events most often are covered by workers’ compensation insurance but only to a degree. The hopes and aspirations of families who have lost a working parent are dramatically changed including the prospects of going on to higher education with a certification or accredited degree.

Getting an education is one reason a group of lawyers, insurance companies, health care providers and others associated with the workers’ compensation system in Maine have banded together to provide scholarship support for the children of deceased and severely injured workers.

Kids’ Chance of Maine just awarded its first four scholarships to students from across the state. These high school and college students know what they need to get ahead and their aspirations are well justified. Someone who earns a bachelor’s degree will be paid more than twice than someone who never went to college. For a disrupted family, the probability of getting into a finishing college is more of a shattered dream than a possibility.

Kids’ Chance of Maine (kidschanceofmaine.org) accepts scholarship applications during the school year and makes financial awards of $2,500 to $5,000 in the Spring for the coming academic year. Though these scholarships represent a fraction of the cost of higher education, they certainly reduce the debt most otherwise assume.

As professionals serving the interests of injured workers, the board members of Kids’ Chance of Maine bring a wealth of experience and empathy to the work of finding and supporting aspiring students. With that in mind, we have established a reasonable set of qualifications for consideration:

• Between 16-22 years old at the time of the application.

• Child who is a dependent of a worker seriously injured or killed in a compensable work-related accident or occupational disease with an employer over whom the Maine Workers’ Compensation Board has jurisdiction.

• Demonstrated financial need to pay for post-secondary education.

• Accepted or already enrolled at an accredited two- or four-year college, university or technical school. (Graduate-level students are not eligible.)

• Pursuing a degree as a full or part-time student.

• For students attending an accredited 2-year or 4-year college or university – Completion of the FAFSA – the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

Too often, as well, children who lose a parent at a young age are unaware of this kind of scholarship assistance. That’s why encourage guidance counselors, teachers, friends and family to remind young people that help is available. As an organization, we don’t want anyone to fall through the cracks for lack of awareness.

Our goal in Maine is to raise more than $25,000 each year. As a 501(C)3 non-profit organization, Kids’ Chance of Maine can also accept tax deductible contributions from anyone willing and able to help make a college degree a possibility. On behalf of our board of directors, we invite you to join is this worthy effort. We also encourage you to make workforce safety part of your own daily work performance. A safe Maine workplace keeps hope and aspirations alive for both you and your family.

— Special to the Press Herald


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