We could not be more proud that the Greenleaf Trust Scholarship at the Haworth College of Business envisioned by our founder and Chairman, William D. Johnston, is turning twenty years old. We are so excited that we celebrated with cake at our annual reception honoring current and past scholarship recipients.

The Greenleaf Trust Scholarship awards ten scholarships annually to business students studying finance or personal financial planning at Western Michigan University. Students receiving the scholarship must maintain a certain GPA and in doing so receive $12,400 annually for tuition until they graduate, or for up to four years. The scholarship is open to all students in both majors; however, it is focused on increasing diversity in these areas of higher education study as well as in the professional field of finance.

When Bill started Greenleaf Trust in 1998, he wanted to build a diverse workforce but was discouraged to find out there was a lack of representation from minority students graduating from Western Michigan University with a degree in finance. So, he changed the situation for the better. Since the scholarship’s start in 1999, 71 students have received the scholarship resulting in over $1.3 million of paid tuition.

Through the scholarship, Greenleaf Trust also provides opportunities for up to three students to complete an internship at our company. Scholars who are offered the internship have the opportunity to rotate through four divisions of Greenleaf Trust: personal trust/wealth management, operations, research and retirement planning. During their internship, they are also provided a mentor who they meet with regularly to receive feedback and coaching. We have been lucky enough to be a part of the growth of 23 interns over the last 20 years and have been honored to have several of those interns start their careers with us.

Every teammate at Greenleaf Trust takes this responsibility seriously. We want the interns to learn and gain meaningful experience by doing “real life” work in their field of study in a professional environment. The hands-on experience involves such things as helping construct wealth management plans, completing an in-house program on fiduciary responsibilities and presenting an investment thesis to our research team, and, of course, we also immerse them in our culture.

I personally am lucky enough to have met and worked alongside the Greenleaf Trust scholars and interns since the beginning. Immediately upon meeting the scholars, I am impressed with their maturity, focus and poise (I do not recall the college version of myself at their same level of these traits). After working with the interns, I am even more impressed with their accountability for projects assigned to them, positive attitude, discipline and thirst for knowledge.

Happy birthday Greenleaf Trust Scholarship. Cheers to another 20 years!