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Thompson Scholars group

Robert & Ellen Thompson Working Families Scholarship

The generosity and dedication of the Thompson family helps to promote SVSU’s mission of providing our students with first-class education and opportunities, while still remaining affordable and welcoming to all. The Robert & Ellen Thompson Working Families Scholarship offers financial support to determined students from hard-working families to help further their academic and career goals, as well as foster a community-minded spirit of giving back.

“If I could speak to the Thompson family, I would say thank you. You have no idea what you’ve done for me and my family.”


“Being able to have this opportunity drastically changed college for me and many others, and the decision to go to college. This has been one of the biggest blessings I could ever have.”


“By working during my college years and thanks to the scholarships I received, I haven’t had to take out a loan at all, and I’m really thankful for that opportunity.”


Thompson Scholars making a difference

Chaz Fowler was as determined in completing his education at Saginaw Valley State University as he was in completing his training to become a United States Marine. Thanks in part to financial support through the Robert and Ellen Thompson Military Scholarship at SVSU, the political science major from Bay City completed his degree. Continue reading...

About the Thompsons

Robert and Ellen Thompson believe in education’s ability to make a significant difference in someone's life. The couple were college sweethearts and entered the asphalt paving business in 1959 with the $3,500 they had saved from Ellen’s teaching career. They lived solely off her income for a few years while they got their business off the ground. Their hard work flourished into two successful, multimillion-dollar businesses and countless accolades for their achievements. As their success grew, so did their philanthropy— both to their employees and promising students.    

After selling their successful asphalt company in 1999, Bob and Ellen Thompson formed the Thompson Foundation and cited its key mission as creating educational opportunities for city youth and families with low incomes. The Thompsons see education as a way to improve lives, and their scholarships are focused on families who believe in hard work— both parents’ on-the-job work and students’ in-classroom work. 

The Thompsons developed this scholarship because they understand the grit and determination of working-class families. 

Ellen Thompson has said it was the couple's relationship with employees at their asphalt company that spurred them into creating scholarship programs. “I see how long and hard some people work, and the dreams they have for their children,” said Ellen Thompson. “We’ve been fortunate and want to help students realize those dreams.” 

The Robert & Ellen Thompson Working Families Scholarship was introduced at SVSU in 2016 and has since helped hundreds of students achieve their academic and career goals.

As for the Thompsons, their only goal is to help students succeed and to perhaps inspire people to give. Robert and Ellen see an opportunity to help students for whom money may be an obstacle to college success. Thompson scholars at SVSU are encouraged to be active in extracurricular activities and Registered Student Organizations (RSOs) and are required to give back through community service. Thompson scholars benefit by building networks and learning skills they can put on their resumes and apply to their daily lives. 

And Bob Thompson has a message for students: "You can do things to help others, one-on-one, and make it happen. You're almost obligated by me to do that. Do what you can and someday I hope you'll look back and say, 'This changed my life.'" 







Tyler Boylen
My parents do an amazing job supporting me in any way that they can, but paying for my college was not in the cards without the Robert and Ellen Thompson Working Families Scholarship.

— Tyler Boylen
Thompson Scholar

New Students Requirements

  • Admitted freshman who will be a full time student (minimum 12 credits/semester)
  • Minimum high school GPA of 3.4
  • ACT/SAT scores are optional, but priority consideration will be given to students with a minimum ACT of 24 or SAT of 1120
  • Demonstrate financial need via a FAFSA Student Aid Index between -$1,500 and $16,000
  • Demonstrate a past history of extracurricular activity and community service
  • Demonstrate a parent/guardian is working
  • Provide the name of a high school teacher/counselor/administrator who can serve as a reference
  • Be eligible for the full Michigan Achievement Scholarship.

The scholarship will be renewed up to 7 additional semesters provided the student meets the criteria of:

  • Complete a minimum of twenty hours of community service each academic year they receive the scholarship
  • Maintain a cumulative SVSU GPA of 2.75
  • Complete (or demonstrate a plan to complete) 30 applicable credits per academic year as defined by the official degree audit

View Additional Robert & Ellen Thompson Working Families Scholarships