Luverne group gives away half a million dollars to students in one night

“We’ve got a fairly substantial endowment and we’ve had three or four really big gifts. We’ve been extremely fortunate.”

Madeleine Schmuck receives $12,000 in scholarships at the Luverne Dollars for Scholars event Monday.
Madeleine Schmuck receives $12,000 in scholarships at the Luverne Dollars for Scholars event Monday.
Submitted photo
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LUVERNE — Luverne Dollars for Scholars awarded $517,2500 in scholarships Monday to 73 seniors who are graduating from Luverne High School.

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Giving out half a million dollars in a single night is an impressive endeavor, particularly considering the group’s funding generally comes from local or formerly-local donors — and the whole of Rock County only has 9,704 people in it.

“We’ve got a fairly substantial endowment and we’ve had three or four really big gifts,” explained Don Klosterbuer, president of the Luverne Dollars for Scholars program. “We’ve been extremely fortunate.”

The scholarship program began in 1984. In the early 1990s, Lava Brooks donated $697,000, and Harvey Ordung, a retired farmer, gave $2.9 million. Ellamae Josendahl, a retired first grade teacher, gave $2.4 million. Vernon Aanenson gave $1 million.

Other large gifts have come in over the years too, and at this point, the group has $12 million in its endowment fund, enabling it to give pretty substantial sums to local graduates in the form of scholarships.


Luverne Dollars for Scholars also offers an incentive to give: anyone who donates $2,000 or more will get their name, or the name of a loved one they wish to honor, on that scholarship in perpetuity. And often people give more than the $2,000 minimum, Klosterbuer said.

“People are really supportive of the program,” he added.

All Luverne High School seniors are eligible to apply for a scholarship, and the number of awards depends on the number of applicants, but Klosterbuer believes this is the largest group of applicants and the largest number of scholarships ever given out by Luverne Dollars for Scholars.

Griffen Jarchow receives scholarships Monday at the Luverne Dollars for Scholars event.
Griffen Jarchow receives scholarships Monday at the Luverne Dollars for Scholars event.
Submitted photo

The nonprofit does advertise itself, and since the early 1990s, it’s had one of the largest endowments of any of the Dollars for Scholars chapters in the nation, Klosterbuer said.

“People have taken a lot of pride in that. It kind of sells itself,” he added.

The group also produces a newsletter sent out to all Luverne alumni that mentions Dollars for Scholars, and the students themselves are very good about writing thank-you notes to donors.

“Luverne’s always been really supportive of schools and education. I look around at other communities and I try to figure out what made Luverne different,” Klosterbuer said. “We’ve got $12 million in our endowment fund. Why do we have $12 million dollars and other places don’t?”

He’s not sure why Luverne is different, but he is positive that people put a premium on education in Luverne.


The scholarships don’t have to be used for four-year schools, but can be put toward any post-graduate educational program. Students have four years to draw their funds down, unless they’re in the military — then they have six.

In order to receive a scholarship, students must apply, and applications are scored based on academic performance and school and community activities. The applications are scored with the whole student in mind, and students receive a dollar amount based on that score. The scholarship isn’t based on financial need.

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Since 1984, Luverne Dollars for Scholars has given out 2,077 scholarships totaling more than $6 million.

For more information or to donate, visit

Luverne students who earned scholarships this year are Hunter Ahrendt, Kaden Anderson, Rylee Anderson, Christopher Aning, Jase Arp, Trista Baustian, Brandon Berghorst, Ayden Bonnett, Reghan Bork, Luke Bosch, Seth Bose, Paige Bruhn, Lauren Buss, Kendall Buss, Jordyn Cleaveland, Nathaniel Cole-Kraty, Billi Connell, Pierce Cunningham, Timothy Eisma, Sam Emery, Kyle Ferguson, Elise Ferrell, Blake Frahm, Jordan Friedrichsen, Hunter Gaffaney, Trygve Gangestad, Morgan Gonnerman, Jacob Hansen, Kayetlin Huiskes, Olivia Huisman, Griffen Jarchow, Burke Johnson, Brenn Klosterbuer-Siebenahler, Zachary Kruse, Noah Mehlhaff, Justin Mente, Emely Montes Rodriguez, Trissa Morseman, Cody Mounce, Tenley Nelson, Mary Opitz, Chase Overgaard, Connor Overgaard, Syndal Pick, Eli Radtke, Ethan Rahm, Silvia Recuero, Braydon Ripka, Kristin Rud, Jonathan Saarloos, Ashton Sandbulte, Grace Sandbulte, Lacey Sasker, Alenya Sayavong, Jack Schlosser, Madeleine Schmuck, Colin Schoeneman, Joseph Schoneman, Cheyenne Schutz, Casey Sehr, Jacey Smith, Macy Stratton, Macie Swenson, Tanner Terrio, Levi Thielbar, Luke Thielbar, Hope Thorson, Luke Thorson, Chance Tunnissen, Brooklynn Ver Steeg, Brielle Watters, Mia Wenzel and Olivia Wieneke.

A 1999 graduate of Jackson County Central and a 2003 graduate of Augsburg College, Kari Lucin started writing for newspapers in Minnesota and North Dakota in 2006. During her time as a reporter, she covered beats including education, watershed, county and agriculture, and frequently wrote about health and science. She has also served as an online content coordinator and an engagement specialist at various Forum Communications properties. She was a marketing assistant at Iowa Lakes Community College in Estherville for two years, where she did design work in addition to writing and social media management.

Lucin is currently a community editor with the Globe of Worthington.

Phone: (507) 376-7319
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