Community Giving

Bill and Joyce Coborn

Bill and Joyce Coborn

Fund Name:: Bill and Joyce Coborn Memorial Scholarship
Fund Established: April 1, 2003
Community Foundation(s): Central Minnesota

When Bill Coborn passed away in 2001, his oldest child Mark wanted to honor the memory of his dad, Bill, and mom, Joyce, who passed away in 1995. Bill and Joyce were part of the third generation of the Coborn family who owned and operated the Coborn's retail stores. A culture of supporting employees has always been a hallmark of Coborn's, and Bill and Joyce modestly exemplified that tradition through their many years affiliated with the company.

Bill and Joyce always encouraged employees to further their education. Mark remembers working as a teenager at the Sauk Rapids store in the late 1970's when he came across an example of his parents' support of education. One of Mark's co-workers at the store, a bright girl who had recently graduated high school but hadn't gone on directly to a post-secondary school, told him she had engaged in a lively debate with Mark's dad about furthering her education. She went on to say that Bill told her if she enrolled in school and passed all of her first term classes, he and Joyce would pay her tuition. Mark never forgot the impression that conversation made on him.

Mark decided to establish the Bill and Joyce Memorial Scholarship Fund in 2003 to honor his parents and carry on a tradition of supporting employees particularly in the area of education. The informal, quiet way Bill and Joyce helped employees and their families was becoming increasingly difficult as Coborn's grew in to a multi-store, multi-state operation with thousands of employees. So Mark partnered with the Central Minnesota Community Foundation to set up the scholarship program. Employees and their families are eligible for the program. Since its inception, 155 students have received scholarships. In 2015, the program granted ten $1,000 scholarships.

"I am very grateful that I have had the opportunity to establish the scholarship program to honor my parents and support Coborn's employees and their families," Mark said. "The Central Minnesota Community Foundation has been a great partner and made it easy for me to offer this program. It is efficient, effective and impactful."