Ruzek family scholarship fund transferred to Austin Area Foundation

Austin Area Foundation is managing a new scholarship fund started years ago by a local family to provide college scholarship assistance to students in need.

The Carl & Stella Ruzek Fund – created by their children Mike, David and Dan Ruzek, all of Austin, to honor their memory – recently was transferred to AAF from Thrivent Charitable Impact & Investing. Its scholarship selections will continue to be administered by the Western Fraternal Life National Scholarship program.

Scholarship awards from the Ruzek endowment fund mainly are based on financial need, with a slight preference given to southeast Minnesota students.

Since 2006, the Ruzek fund has awarded 16 annual scholarships each for $1,000. The family’s goal is to grow the fund to be able to offer at least a $2,000 scholarship annually.

The Ruzek family transferred the scholarship fund to AAF because they were impressed with the foundation’s investment portfolio and its good works, said Taggert Medgaarden, chair of AAF’s board of directors.

Mike Ruzek started the Austin Area Foundation in 2003 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and continues to serve on AAF’s 18-member board of directors.

In recent months, the foundation also established the AAF Scholarship for Education Majors that in 2022 will start awarding college scholarship assistance, Medgaarden said. Those scholarships will be for Austin High School graduates who enroll in a four-year program, have declared a major in education and are pursuing a career in teaching and/or school administration.

AAF welcomes anyone interested in establishing a new scholarship fund or donor-advised fund (either endowed or non-endowed) to contact the foundation, Medgaarden said. All fees generated from AAF administering the funds remain in Austin and are used for the betterment of local nonprofits, he added.

To date, AAF administers 26 endowed funds and has more than $2.6 million in assets under management. An endowed fund is a perpetual or permanent fund from which the earnings are used annually to provide grants to other nonprofits.

Through its Austin Legacy Endowment Fund, AAF has provided grant assistance to dozens of nonprofit organizations based in Austin. In January, AAF also established the Greater Austin Area and Mower County Endowment Fund to support nonprofits throughout the area and is seeking funds to support future grants.

For more information about the Carl & Stella Ruzek Fund or the Austin Area Foundation, contact AAF’s executive director Steve Barrett at 507-434-7494 or via online at:

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