New scholarship to support students in Moraine Valley’s Cannabis Program

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PAUL CHIALDIKAS, Bedford Grow’s vice president (right), presents an $85,000 check to Dr. Sylvia M. Jenkins, president of Moraine Valley Community College (center), and Kristy McGreal, executive director of the Moraine Valley Foundation (left), to support scholarships for students in the college’s new Cannabis Retail Specialist Program.

The Moraine Valley Community College Foundation has received an $85,000 donation from Bedford Grow to establish an endowed scholarship. The Bedford Grow Lou Dineff Memorial Scholarship will support five annual $1,000 scholarships for students enrolled in the college’s Cannabis Retail Specialist Program.

“We hope this scholarship will make students’ lives easier as they navigate the educational process and achieve their dreams of success,” said Laurel Dineff, founder and CEO of Bedford Grow.

The scholarship was named in honor of Laurel’s brother, Lou, to recognize his dedication to encouraging the state to legalize medical cannabis so people could benefit from this alternative therapy.

He had seen his sister, Beverly, suffer from a debilitating illness that a doctor said would have been helped by medical cannabis. Since it was not legal in Illinois, Lou worked with state legislators to promote the passage of the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act of 2013, so people like his sister could be helped.

He died a week after Laurel was granted the license to start the Bedford Grow business.

Bedford Grow, one of the leading developers and cultivators of medical-grade cannabis products in the state, as well as adult use cannabis, wanted to support education in its community. The company chose to donate their state-mandated contribution to Moraine Valley Community College because it offers an approved certificate program to train students for employment in this fast-growing industry that will need a significant number of skilled workers who possess a thorough understanding of safety and compliance issues.

Laurel liked the idea of supporting students from the local area. “As first-generation immigrants, my family and I are sensitive to the need for education. Struggling through school on scholarships and loans was difficult for us, but we did it. We worked hard and are now able to give back to the community in which we grew up,” she said.

Paul Chialdikas, Bedford Grow’s vice president, indicated the scholarship also will help the industry and local economy. “There’s going to be a large labor force in this industry, and we want to educate more people for employment.” According to Chialdikas, 150 new cannabis retail licenses are expected to be released by the state in the next year, so the need for workers will be substantial. “I’ve seen estimates that this may be a $3 billion industry in Illinois by 2023,” he said.

“We are incredibly thankful for this donation of $85,000 from Bedford Grow that will help students for decades to come,” said Kristy McGreal, executive director of the Foundation. “With this scholarship, we will support countless students as they prepare to enter this emerging industry. As a Foundation, we are grateful for the opportunity to offer assistance to many deserving students because of Bedford Grow’s generosity.” The first scholarships will be available for students this year and will be offered annually.

For information about the Moraine Valley Foundation, contact McGreal, at mcgrealc2@morainevalley.edu.

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