Many communities are struggling to retain local college graduates, especially in the areas of science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM). How do we encourage them to return to their communities and fill available positions? In early 2014, the Council of Michigan Foundations (CMF) was approached by the Community Foundation of St. Clair County regarding the concept of offering financial incentives for local college STEAM graduates to return to their local communities for work. This type of program would provide competitive reverse scholarships, helping recent college graduates pay off their student loan debt if they return to their local communities for work.
With support from several organizations, CMF hired the law firm Clark Hill PLC to explore this concept further and provide some guidance on whether this approach could meet the IRS definition of being a charitable activity for foundations to pursue.
The findings were eye-opening for the entire field.