APPLETON (NBC26) — Doug and Carla Salmon moved to Appleton in 1972 to work in the medical filed and raise their two children. Then in the 1990s, they began to look for ways to give back to their community.
"Doug was a family doctor in the Fox Cities and Carla ran the MedTech program at St. Elizabeth hospital. It was their dream to give back to their community," said Theresa Braatz, the Executive Director of the Doug & Carla Salmon Foundation.
They decided to give the gift of education. That’s why they started the Doug & Carla Salmon Foundation Scholarship in 1999. The foundation provides financial assistance to undergraduates in need.
"He and his wife wanted to give money back to the community in the form of scholarships for students who might have barriers to getting an education," Braatz said. "That would include people like displaced homemakers, single parents, and first generation students.”
Now in 2021, their foundation has given scholarships to over 1,000 students.
"We give up to $10,000 per student over the life of their college career so if you think about that some students may receive six, seven, eight thousand dollars and we’ve helped over a thousand students so far,” Braatz said.
Aside from providing financial assistance, the program also has a team of counselors who support recipients every step of the way.
"It’s sort of a hand-holding process throughout their education to make sure they get across the finish line," Braatz said. "We like to just make sure they’re on track to graduate and if they need help from any community resources that we’re there to support them. Many of them don’t have someone at home cheering them on so we try to be a cheerleader for them as well.”
That support system is key in helping recipients create a better life for themselves, especially for first-generation students who don't have family to guide them.
“It definitely is a means to break the cycle of poverty for many," Braatz said. "Especially with the first generation college students, they haven’t had family go through college before, they need a little help navigating the system.”
Doug passed away in 2017 but Carla and the foundation they started are keeping his legacy alive.
"We receive so many thank you letters from students, she reads all of them, and it’s just an amazing thing to see the success stories that come out of this program," Braatz said.
Currently 50 students receive scholarships from the Salmon Foundation each year. For more information, you can visit cffoxvalley.org