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Jim Schloemer ’81
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Alumni in Focus

Jim Schloemer Endows Scholarship to Pay it Forward

Fall 2019

For most college students, spring break signals a time to enjoy the sun, surf, and sandy beaches. It’s a time to get away from the rigors of academic life. But for some students at Valparaiso University, where service is part of each student’s calling to be part of something bigger, they spend the break from classes building memories while building homes.

Thanks to Jim Schloemer ’81 and the Schloemer Family Spring Break service Trip Endowed Fund, during Spring Break 2019 a dozen Valpo students were able to have an experience unlike many of their friends.

The scholarship provides funds for students who otherwise may not have been able to afford to take part in a service trip. This inaugural trip took them to Jonesville, Virginia, to spend time in the community of approximately 1,000 residents in the southwest corner of the state and assist in repairing homes.

40 years of building community

Jim Schloemer, who founded national real estate development company Continental Properties in 1979 with a couple of high school buddies even before graduating from Valpo, was looking to do something special to commemorate the company’s 40th anniversary this year, complete with the theme of 40 years of building community.

“One of the foundational elements of a Valpo education is stewardship,” Jim says. “This service trip reinforces that. Stewardship isn’t just financial. It’s also about sharing talents and resources.”

Ryan Bye, assistant director for student activities at Valpo, accompanied the students on the service trip and saw up close the impact it had on them. “The students were very grateful for the experiences they were afforded due to the scholarship,” Ryan says. “They truly had a life-changing experience that will continue with them through their college experience and beyond.”

Fuel to ignite the fire of stewardship

When Jim looked into endowing a scholarship, he knew he wanted it to be extraordinary. He wanted it to extend beyond the classroom and provide an experience for students that would have ripple effects like a stone thrown in a pond.

“I’ve benefited from traditional scholarships. I think they are outstanding,” Jim says. “I wanted to find something that supported particular needs; to find individuals who needed financial support to do something distinctive. This scholarship supports the participants but ultimately supports communities and individuals.”

Jim indicated he has heard from students who participated in the trip, and they are now going to continue to pay it forward with additional service projects in their community.

Because the scholarship is fully funded, there are bound to be additional opportunities for Valpo students to experience stewardship thanks to Jim Schloemer and his family.

“Valpo reinforced and developed that sense of community in me when I was there,” he says. “Valpo really embraces social responsibility and community. It’s been pure joy being part of that community.”

More from the Fall 2019 Issue