By supporting education, electric cooperatives strengthen their communities.

Electric cooperatives in Texas annually award thousands of dollars in scholarships to children of their members and graduating seniors in high schools in their service territories. Some cooperatives also give awards to older students who are continuing their education. These programs come at little to no cost to the co-op’s members.

That’s because to fund these awards, cooperatives can take advantage of a state law passed in 1997 that allows the use of unclaimed capital credits refunds for the purposes of student scholarships and economic development. In previous years, that unclaimed money would have reverted to the state’s general fund.

Scholarships awarded by many of the state’s electric cooperatives can be used at accredited colleges or universities or for vocational training.

Why award scholarships? The answer can be found in two of the core founding principles of cooperatives of all kinds: Education, Training and Information, and Concern for Community.

In the case of scholarships, those two principles go hand-in-hand. Giving educational opportunities to members of the communities co-ops serve helps families who might otherwise struggle to pay for their children’s education. And giving more people the opportunity to take advantage of higher education strengthens the fabric of local communities.

For electric cooperatives in Texas, that’s a win-win situation.