<p>RALEIGH, N.C. – In what is described as a “unique” partnership, Local Government Federal Credit Union here is offering $10,000 in scholarships to members who enroll in a newly reorganized government education unit of the University of North Carolina. The annual program, to start next month and thought to be the only one of its kind in the U.S., is aimed at furthering professional skills of LGFCU members who receive training at the new School of Government of UNC in nearby Chapel Hill. LGFCU will pay member tuition costs for classes, conferences and seminars conducted by the School on the Chapel Hill campus. Selection of scholarship winners will be made “on the basis of need and merit” by a committee representing the college and officials from three North Carolina municipal and county government associations. LGFCU said the scholarship program was set up to demonstrate “the extra value” of membership in the CU and to provide “another valued service.” The $325 million CU has a membership base composed primarily of city and county government employees across the state. LGFCU said the scholarships offered through the School of Government will “provide the tools for local government employees to become more efficient and knowledgeable in their duties.” The program is particularly timely, noted a news release, in light of the “budget crisis” facing the state. Officials noted layoffs in North Carolina State, and county government units have been on the increase as municipalities seek ways to meet budget shortfalls. The scholarship idea, said LGFCU, offers a “vehicle” for members to “achieve professional development.” The new UNC School of Government is better known in North Carolina as the Institute of Government, which in October was formally brought under the umbrella of UNC. IOG, said the news release, “offers one of the most comprehensive approaches to training public officials” in the country. The school is the largest university-based government training, consulting and research organization in the country, the release continued. Over 230 classes, seminars and specialized conferences serve approximately 14,000 elected and appointed government officials in the state each year. Michael Smith, dean of the School of Government, noted that many of LGFCU members have already benefited from the school, but the scholarships “are quite unique” since government employees can now “better themselves as well as become more productive in their workplace and their communities.” Selection of recipients is to be made quarterly by the IOG Scholarship Selection Committee. The quarterly deadlines for applications are March 15, June 15, Sept. 15 and Dec. 15. -</p> <p>[email protected]</p>

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