Beginning next fall, a student at St. Ambrose University will benefit annually from the Quad-Cities River Bandits’ scholarship program.

The Midwest League club and the university announced Monday that St. Ambrose will join Augustana College and Western Illinois University in partnering with the Bandit Scholars program, which will provide one full-tuition scholarship and a paid internship annually to a Quad-City region student attending each of the three institutions.

The program, started in 2009, has grown into the largest scholarship program in all of minor-league baseball.

“The thing we like best about it is that we are helping students and families in our community and that is something that has always been at the heart of what we do,’’ River Bandits owner Dave Heller said. “St. Ambrose, like Augustana and Western Illinois, provides great opportunities for young people and we’re happy to help them realize their dreams and make our communities stronger.’’

As is the case with the other scholarships involved in the program, the scholarship will be awarded to a student currently in their sophomore year at St. Ambrose and will be awarded during the 2017 River Bandits season.

It will cover the cost of one year of full tuition for the student’s junior year and be followed by a paid internship with the River Bandits between the recipient’s junior and senior years of college.

St. Ambrose president Sister Joan Lescinski welcomes the additional professional experience opportunities the program provides the school’s students, estimating that more than half of St. Ambrose students participate in some type of internship during their college careers.

“The experiences our students gain are so valuable and quite often, they lead to employment opportunities after graduation,’’ Lescinski said. “The chance for our students to learn and gain knowledge through internship experiences with organizations like the River Bandits is invaluable.’’

Lescinski said the school has collaborated with a number of Quad-City area businesses and corporations to create internship opportunities.

“This is the latest collaborative effort and we’re excited about the opportunities it provides our students as well as how it helps families in the Quad-Cities area cover the cost of an education,’’ Lescinski said.

Past recipients of Bandit Scholars awards have had a chance to gain experience in sales and marketing areas and Heller said they could even apply to students working toward degrees in areas such as turf management.

“There are a lot of possibilities,’’ Heller said. “Mostly, we’re happy to provide a deserving student from the area with the chance to move one step closer to a degree.’’

All three scholarships in the Bandit Scholars program are open to any student preparing for their junior year of college who resides in Scott, Cedar and Muscatine counties in Iowa and Rock Island, Henry, Mercer and Whiteside counties in Illinois.

The scholarship awarded though St. Ambrose will be administered by the university and the recipient will be selected by a committee including members of the school’s faculty and administration as well as the River Bandits ownership and general manager.

Heller estimated the value of three scholarships is in excess of $60,000 annually, dollars raised through events during the year including the River Bandits’ annual Race to Home 5K and a golf outing.

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