Kyler Clawson, a Barton County native, had been “rolling around the idea” of starting a chiropractic clinic in Great Bend.
When he mentioned this to his uncle, Jon Prescott of Ellinwood, he learned there is something called a Come Home Reverse Scholarship.
Clawson and his wife, Stacy, sought more information and the result is the Golden Belt Community Foundation (GBCF) recently named him the first recipient of a local Come Home award. The Clawsons now live in Great Bend.
Grants from private donations are paid directly to the loan holder over a several-year period.
“Chiropractic school cost a huge amount of money and the opportunity to get some help with this debt is amazing,” said Clawson, 33. “And most important, our daughter, Brynlee, now sees her grandparents regularly. Seeing these relationships grow is worth everything.”
The grandparents are Lori and Kyle Clawson of rural Ellinwood, and Dan and Melanie Zink of Ellinwood. The Clawsons also are now closer to siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins living in this area.
The family moved to Great Bend from Hays, where he still owns Walk-in Chiropractic. His second location recently opened in Great Bend at 3007 10th.
“We offer a new form of chiropractic business that can benefit a lot of people,” Clawson said. “I have been voted best chiropractor in Hays for the past four years because of our commitment to give our best to every patient every time. We are convenient, fast and affordable.”
Clawson is a 2006 graduate of Ellinwood High School. He earned his associate degree in 2009 at Garden City Community College and bachelor’s in kinesiology in 2011 at Kansas State University.
After graduating from Cleveland University Kansas City in 2015, Clawson began his career at Panzer Chiropractic in Hillsboro. He then went to Hays and bought the clinic there last September.
“Rearranging our priorities has been an amazing process,” Clawson commented. “Stacy and I truly appreciate the Golden Belt Community Foundation and the people who donate to the Come Home scholarship fund. We think they are helping more than just my family.”
At $27.9 million in total assets and 185 funds under management, the Golden Belt Community Foundation has been connecting people who care to causes that matter since 1996. Golden Belt Community Foundation exists to provide non-profit organizations in central Kansas with a permanent source of support and to serve as a vehicle for charitable giving for donors. GBCF serves the counties of Barton, Pawnee, Rush, and Stafford. For more information about Golden Belt Community Foundation, call 620-792-3000 or visit their website at www.goldenbeltcf.org.
When Cory Sager first heard about Come Home Reverse Scholarships, he asked: “Really? They have those?”
Yes, they really do.
As the second person to qualify for the local award, Sager is now free of student-loan debt.
“The weight off our shoulders and the feeling of accomplishment are hard to beat,” Sager said. “Now, I finally feel that school is complete.
“I appreciated the opportunity to even be considered for this scholarship,” he added. “Donors to the scholarship fund took a lot of the guesswork out of where we would relocate. They have helped a young family in more ways than I can ever express.”
Sager, 29, now lives in Great Bend and is project manager at Fuller Industries; his responsibilities revolve around private-label chemicals and custom brushes.
“Fuller has been a long-time part of this community and it had a job opportunity that was enticing to me,” he commented.
Come Home scholarship recipients must have earned an associate, bachelor’s or master’s degree, or a certificate in a skilled-trade program within the last seven years.
There is a preference for those who have lived in Golden Belt communities in the past. These include towns in GBCF’s territory, which is Barton, Pawnee, Rush and Stafford counties. They must have student debt.
Sager previously lived in Great Bend and attended Barton Community College where he was awarded an associate degree. He went on to earn a bachelor’s in mathematics at Emporia State University.
Most recently, Sager lived in Gardner, and was project manager/salesman at Commercial Floorworks in Overland Park.
He and his wife, Molly, have two children - Emma and Owen. “Our children are the reason we wanted to move to a smaller town. We appreciate the down-to-earth values here,” said Sager, who is originally from Colby.
Area family members are Mike and Sandy Niedens, and Dustin Kirkman.
Christy Tustin, GBCF executive director, said “we are thrilled to have Kyler and Cory and their families in Great Bend. Those who are from this area or have close ties here are most likely to stay. They will be our next generation of leaders and engaged in their communities.”
Come Home scholarships are designed to enhance business retention and recruitment efforts, Tustin explained.
“Bringing the next generation back will help our communities thrive,” she noted. “These individuals will fill needed positions, send their children to local schools and volunteer to support non-profit agencies. In short, they will help make the Golden Belt a great place to live.”
This program meshes nicely with one of GBCF’s missions - economic development philanthropy. “Talent recruitment and retention play a huge role in this,” Tustin said.
Scholarship amounts vary but up to $10,000 can be awarded per applicant over several years. Currently, the fund has enough to provide at least one or two scholarships per year over the next several years. Private donations are always accepted.
The search for applicants is ongoing and additional awards are anticipated this year.
“We strongly encourage businesses and individuals to contact us if they know of someone who may be interested in applying for the scholarship,” Tustin said. “It would be very helpful if they would share information about the Come Home program.”