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Alworth Memorial Fund celebrating 75 years

“Thousands of recipients over the decades have said they would not have been able to pursue their education without the financial support of the Alworth Memorial Fund.” -- Patty Salo Downs, Executive Director of the Alworth Memorial Fund

The Duluth-based Marshall H. and Nellie Alworth Memorial Fund was created in 1949, making this its 75-year anniversary of providing scholarships to help northern Minnesota students further their education and make important contributions to the world. During that time, 5,394 high school seniors have been awarded Alworth scholarships totaling $56,764,401 to pursue bachelor’s degrees related to the science, mathematics, engineering, medical and research fields of study.

Alworth scholarship recipients have become doctors, analyzed properties of sound in the ocean and gravitational waves in space, and created a Velcro design to safeguard soldiers. They have gone on to teach at schools ranging from Hibbing High to MIT, develop a polymer coating to protect COVID vaccine vials, and pioneer research into neurological disorders.

In fact, Alworth scholars have seemingly impacted nearly everything under the sun – including developing a solar-powered car and launching a NASA mission to Pluto. (Information about these and many other successes is at

Such a global influence was made possible by a man who wanted to help students in his small corner of the world. Marshall W. Alworth created a scholarship program in 1949 for northern Minnesota students interested in studies related to math and science. Those criteria remain in force 75 years later at an organization named after Marshall W. Alworth’s parents: the Marshall H. and Nellie Alworth Memorial Fund.

Salo Downs

“Marshall W. never had children, but his incredible generosity has helped nurture nearly 5,400 young people and counting,” said Patty Salo Downs, Executive Director of the Alworth Memorial Fund. “His great love for math and science has been passed on to many generations, and will continue for future generations. Mr. Alworth’s goal was to help talented young people enter careers that would benefit humanity, and they certainly have done that.”

Alworth scholarship awards are now $24,000 per recipient, available to students entering four-year educational institutions. New this year is a $12,000 scholarship to broaden opportunities, called the College Transfer Pathway Scholarship. It is available to community college sophomores graduating with an associate in science degree who will be pursuing a qualifying bachelor's degree during their final two years of schooling at a four-year university.


“Alworth scholars impact our lives every day in ways most people never realize,” said Alworth Board President Patty Phillips. “Many are deeply involved in research to make the world a better place. For example, an applied materials science and structural engineering student from Walker is researching how to use more environmentally sustainable materials and processes to produce concrete, while a Brainerd student is doing in-depth cancer research at Columbia’s Institute for Cancer Genetics.”

Salo Downs added that many scholarship recipients either remain in the region or return later on, further benefiting future generations. She mentioned Kurt Zimpel, who grew up on a dirt farm outside of McGregor and used his Alworth scholarship to study veterinary medicine. He has served the McGregor area as a veterinarian for 43 years.

As part of its 75th anniversary recognition, the Alworth Memorial Fund is hosting an April 17 dinner in Duluth, including a program with recipients representing each decade the scholarships have been awarded.

“You might be surprised to learn how many of your own classmates or neighbors earned Alworth scholarships,” said Phillips. “They could be the ones making rural healthcare available to you, helping address climate change or teaching your kids.”

Alworth scholarships are available to students in 60 high schools, plus those who are homeschooled, in these 10 northern Minnesota counties: Aitkin, Beltrami, Carlton, Cass, Cook, Crow Wing, Lake, Itasca, Koochiching and St Louis. There are currently over 260 active participants in the Alworth scholarship program pursuing their degrees in colleges and universities across the U.S. and abroad.

The organization’s current board of directors includes: Patty Phillips (Board President), Maggie Skelton (Vice President), Kurt Brooks (Treasurer), Eric Albrecht, Michelle Arnhold Davies, Ph.D., Charles Black Lance, Marieta Johnson and Jeff Wig.

“Thousands of recipients over the decades have said they would not have been able to pursue their education without the financial support of the Alworth Memorial Fund,” added Salo Downs. “Mr. Alworth did not want to see the potential of talented northern Minnesota students go to waste, and his extraordinary vision continues to have a ripple effect.

“Imagine the things our world would be without, were it not for these intelligent and inspired women and men who put their education to such great use.”