NextGen Student Fund receives $10,000 from local fire fighter union

Local 311 fire fighters present students and staff with $10,000 check

It was a great day for the NextGen Responders Academy.

The program received a $10,000 check from the local Fire Fighters Union 311 and had the honor of awarding eight Madison College students with $1,000 scholarships. 

The scholarships were awarded to current Madison College students who participated in the NextGen academy as high schoolers. During the ceremony, student Elijah Vance shared how the academy impacted the trajectory of his life and future career. 

“This experience changed my life for the better,” he said. “I’ve been able to meet so many people in various professions, and it’s been such an incredible opportunity. I want to thank (Fire Fighter’s Union) 311 for donating to the student fund and to the college for making this scholarship possible.”

The NextGen Responders Academy is an option to all Wisconsin high school juniors and seniors. Once enrolled, students learn the critical skills of becoming emergency medical responders (EMRs) and fire technicians. After high school graduation, many will enroll at Madison College to pursue an associate degree, certificate, or technical diploma in the School of Human and Protective Services

At the ceremony, Madison College President Jack Daniels spoke to the impact of the academy, which continues to train and graduate many first responders and fire fighters now working in the local community. “These skills are tremendously important from an occupational and training standpoint, and then you hear directly from our students, and you also realize it’s changing lives and bettering our community.”

The NextGen Student Fund ensures students have support when they need it, with a large bulk of donations coming from the Fire Fighters Union 311. Kevin McDonald, a local 311 executive board member and charitable trustee, says supporting the fund is exactly why the union’s foundation was created. 

“These are students who are learning how to do our job,” McDonald says. “They are growing up as people, and they are being mentored by our members. We wanted to find a way to support these students in overcoming barriers and help them stay in school.” 

NextGen instructor and city of Madison fire fighter Adam Perez has seen first-hand how important the fund is for students making the transition from high school to Madison College. 

“For those students who are traditionally underrepresented or may face financial hardships, this fund can be the difference,” he says. “The bulk of funds are used for NextGen student scholarships. In addition, we use emergency grants to meet the unexpected and emerging needs of our students - like transportation and access to meals - that often impact their ability to engage and succeed in their courses."

This ceremony marks the first time scholarships were awarded by the fund, a milestone that brought promise to those in attendance.

“This was a great day,” says Vance. “It’s been so beneficial, and I hope more students get the same opportunity as I have.”