Brissman Foundation announces $140,000 in new grants, surpassing $1M in its history

Local News

Milan residents who plan to get a healthcare job have a new resource in their corner: the Grant W. and Virginia W. Brissman Scholarship for Nursing & Health Sciences.

The permanently endowed scholarship, which will support Milan students attending Trinity College of Nursing and Health Sciences in Rock Island, is made possible by a new $50,000 grant from the Grant W. Brissman and Virginia M. Brissman Foundation, a private foundation administered through the Quad Cities Community Foundation.

The scholarship fund grant is just one of 15 grants totaling over $140,000 recently announced by the Brissman Foundation. Each year, the foundation awards grants for projects dedicated to improving the quality of life for Milan residents. The grants fund work focused on youth development, community development, and cultural activities, as well as relief for underprivileged people. Nonprofits located outside of Milan, like Trinity Health Foundation, are eligible as long as their applications demonstrate specific benefits to the village and its residents.

“This is a very special year for the Brissman Foundation,” Kelly Thompson, vice president of grantmaking and community initiatives at the Community Foundation, said in a Monday release. “With this grant cycle, they have surpassed $1 million in grants. What a way to support the place Grant and Virginia so revered — and what a legacy to leave.”

Kelly Thompson, vice president of grantmaking and community initiatives at the Quad Cities Community Foundation.

The new scholarship is a perfect example of that legacy, said Mary Macumber-Schmidt, president of Trinity Health Foundation, which received the grant and will manage the scholarship.

She explained that while the Brissman Foundation funded individual scholarships for Milan students at Trinity the last two years, moving from an annual gift to an endowed fund will support students in perpetuity in the Brissmans’ honor.

“The number of lives one nurse touches within a year is hard to even begin to determine,” Macumber-Schmidt said, “so the impact of a gift like this is truly far-reaching.”

Long-lasting resources like this are needed to tackle the healthcare worker gap in the Quad Cities area, a region Macumber-Schmidt said was already suffering from a health professional shortage before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the foundation release said. As nurses and other clinical healthcare professionals continue retiring faster than new generations enter the field, strategies to increase access to healthcare education are more important now than ever, the foundation said.

According to Macumber-Schmidt, 94 percent of students in Trinity’s Bachelor of Nursing program received some financial aid last year, and 36 percent met the poverty threshold for a family of four. “Over the next 25 years, we only expect those percentages to go up. We have to create capacity for financial support to reach and maintain the number of healthcare professionals our community needs,” she said.

“What’s beautiful about this scholarship is that it goes full circle,” she added. “Of course, it allows us to create opportunities for Milan residents to have the career of their dreams. But with nearly 90 percent of Trinity graduates staying in the community each year, it also means that those who live in the village and the surrounding area will be able to receive high-quality healthcare. It’s a brilliant tribute to those who are still living and those who are no longer with us.”

The full list of Brissman Foundation grant recipients includes:

  • Augustana College—speech, language, and hearing services for Milan residents: $2,000
  • Bethany for Children & Families—agency van to serve Milan children: $1,000
  • Child Abuse Council—Second Step: Child Protection Program: $1,500
  • Children’s Therapy Center of the Quad Cities—Assistance with unreimbursed therapy services provided to children residing in the Village of Milan: $10,000
  • Figge Art Museum—Big Picture outreach to Milan schools and organizations: $5,000
  • Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois—Scout leadership development program: $2,000
  • Milan Christian Food Pantry—Mission support: $5,000
  • Quad City Symphony Orchestra—Music education programs: $5,000        
  • Rock Island-Milan Kiwanis Club First Day Fund—Rock Island-Milan Club First Day Fund at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School: $3,000
  • Rock Island-Milan School District—Expansion and improvement of outdoor community learning area at Thomas Jefferson Elementary: $20,000
  • Scott Community College Foundation—To increase the balance of the Grant W. and Virginia M. Brissman Scholarship Endowment: $25,000
  • Spring Forward Learning Center—Expanding Spring Forward’s capacity to address learning recovery for at-risk Milan students: $7,500
  • Trinity Health Foundation—Trinity College of Nursing & Health Sciences Scholarships for Milan Residents (for current scholarships): $10,000
  • Trinity Health Foundation—Grant W. and Virginia W. Brissman Scholarship for Nursing & Health Sciences Endowed Fund: $40,000
  • Youth Service Bureau of Rock Island County—Youth and family counseling: $6,175

The Grant W. Brissman and Virginia M. Brissman Foundation was established in 2011 to honor its namesakes’ legacy and enhance quality of life in the Village of Milan, where Grant Brissman ran Brissman’s Auto Supply for 30 years and served on the board of directors of Blackhawk State Bank. Virginia Brissman worked for Illinois Bell Telephone Company for 40 years before retiring in 1977. The couple had been married for 60 years when Grant died at age 88 in 2004. Virginia died at the age of 94.

Learn more about the Brissman Foundation at www.brissmanfoundation.org.

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