Talent development

Talent development

With five campuses, over 60,000 students, and nearly 300 undergraduate and graduate degrees/majors, the University of Minnesota is one of the most comprehensive universities in the nation. Together with our private and public sector partners, the University transforms students’ lives so that students can transform the world.

Through investments in University of Minnesota scholarships, fellowships, and student programs, companies and foundations have played a crucial role in this mission, while contributing directly to the growth, health, and diversity of tomorrow’s workforce.

Below, you’ll find a few examples of the many ways in which industry partners are supporting a new generation of talent: leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs who will shape the future of sustainability and agriculture, science and engineering, business and technology, and beyond.

3M: Building access to higher education

As one of the most comprehensive and high-quality public research institutions in the country, the University of Minnesota is working to build access to higher education for students who have been historically underrepresented in postsecondary institutions. 3M has been a key collaborator in this work.

Through 3M's giving to the Driven campaign, the company has invested in University of Minnesota scholarships geared towards building a diverse STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) workforce, including the 3M Diversity Scholarship at the College of Science and Engineering. Since its inception, the 3M Diversity Scholarship has supported more than 65 students through tuition assistance, academic and career opportunities, and a critical vote of confidence for future success.

3M has also sponsored programs that bring key people, ideas, and support systems together to build equity and diversity in higher education. One such program is CORE (Community Outreach, Retention and Engagement): an early outreach program coordinated by the University’s Office for Equity and Diversity, designed to improve middle school education and outcomes as well as connect college-bound high school students to the University of Minnesota. Both nationally and at the U of M, Black and Indigenous students and students of color enroll, matriculate, and graduate at lower rates than their white counterparts. With support from 3M, CORE is tackling this inequity by helping underrepresented students develop college readiness skills, especially in STEM subjects.

"Innovation is driven by diverse points of view and new ways of looking at problems. A more diverse student population is key to building a successful workforce to solve some of our society’s greatest challenges."

Best Buy: Supporting a new generation of business and technology leaders

In October of 2019, Best Buy announced $2.5 million in funding for the Best Buy Scholarship at the Carlson School of Management as part of the Driven campaign: one of the largest education endowment gifts in the company’s history. The scholarship focuses on providing opportunities to students pursuing tech-reliant careers in business. Outside of financial support, recipients of the Best Buy Scholarship also receive opportunities within the company, including a mentor in their field of interest, a summer internship, and the ability to participate in job shadowing, career panels, career fairs, and campus tours.

"At the University of Minnesota and within the Carlson School of Management, we are deeply committed to expanding opportunity and mobilizing resources for the students we serve. This endowed scholarship takes a broad and expansive view of the larger problems of inequality, closing education and achievement gaps for exceptional students from underserved communities."

Polaris: Dismantling financial barriers in science and engineering

Polaris has been a key partner in developing talent in science and engineering at the University of Minnesota, and building support for a diverse, innovative engineering workforce. Established in the fall of 2020 and building upon previous gifts toward the University's Driven campaign, the Polaris Diversity Scholarship provides essential financial support to mechanical and electrical engineering students in the College of Science and Engineering at the University of Minnesota, building pathways into the profession for students from communities who have been historically underrepresented in science and engineering careers.

"There are not enough words to describe how much this scholarship means to me. I am a first-generation Hmong-American woman and the first in my family to pursue an engineering degree. When I read about the Polaris scholarship and who they aimed to give this scholarship to, I started crying. They were tears of joy, because for once, I felt like my identity in this field finally meant something to someone. Because of this generous gift, I am now able to finish my last mile of school without having to worry about how I'm going to pay for tuition. This last mile is just as hard as the first, but because of this scholarship I will be able to finish strong and proudly represent."

Ecolab Foundation: Delivering a transformative education to future leaders in science, engineering, sustainability, and business

In 2018, a $5 million gift from the Ecolab Foundation included more than $1 million in undergraduate scholarships in science, engineering, environmental and sustainability-focused fields. The gift, the largest ever from the Ecolab Foundation to the U, highlights an influential private-public collaboration between the University of Minnesota and Ecolab: one that advances sustainability thought leadership across Minnesota and beyond.

Since their inception, Ecolab Scholarships have supported 18 business students interested in environmental grand challenges, and 32 students studying toward a degree in science, engineering, and related environmental and sustainability focused majors or minors—some receiving awards for multiple years. These students will become the next generation of sustainability innovators and leaders, helping to solve urgent environmental challenges for Minnesota and the world.

Schwan’s: Cultivating talent in business, food science, and nutrition

Since 2016, support from the Schwan's Corporate Giving Foundation toward the Driven campaign has benefited undergraduate students pursuing careers in food science and nutrition, bioproducts and biosystems engineering, business, and related fields.

At the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences (CFANS), the Schwan’s Academic Excellence Scholarship has played a key role in developing talent in food science and nutrition, and building support for the bioproducts and biosystems engineering workforce. At the Carlson School of Management, the Schwan's Carlson School Scholarship helps high-achieving, high-potential undergraduate students achieve their academic and professional goals, regardless of their financial means.

With support from Schwan’s, these students have gone on to pursue doctoral degrees, conduct novel research, and join the workforce as future leaders in engineering and business.

"Receiving the Schwan's Academic Excellence Scholarship allows me to pursue my engineering career in bioproducts and biosystems at the University of Minnesota, following my dream to engineer a sustainable and food-safe future."


"This scholarship will enable me to focus on my senior research, studies, and deferred M.B.A. applications. Schwan’s decision to invest in future business leaders humbles me, and I am very honored to have received this award."

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Contact us if you are a corporate or foundation representative and would like more information about matching your priorities and interests with opportunities and resources at the University.

Elizabeth Wegele

Elizabeth Wegele