Just in time for a historic race weekend, the Mattioli Foundation and Pocono Raceway have announced the establishment of the Jimmie Johnson Legacy Scholarship for students at Monroe Career and Technical Institute.
The scholarship, which recognizes and celebrates the achievements of seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, will benefit students pursuing professional skills at MCTI.
Each year for the next 23 years – a nod to Johnson’s time with NASCAR – the program will provide a portion of $4,800 – a reference to his car number, 48 – to students who demonstrate professional skills throughout their time at MCTI.
Professional skills, otherwise known as soft skills, teach and assess things like good attendance, work ethic, teamwork and more, all of which are incredibly valuable traits for job hunters.
MCTI’s Professional Skills Certificate program consists of a rigid set of criteria to prove that a student has mastered those skills. In order to earn the valued certificate, students need a 95% attendance rate, an 85% work ethic grade, and an 85% technical education average for their years of attendance. Students must also meet a strict discipline criteria, and provide three letters of reference to a faculty panel, which conducts a final review before awarding the certification.
"MCTI is excited and honored to be sharing the Jimmie Johnson Legacy Scholarship, afforded by the Mattioli Foundation and Pocono Raceway, to the deserving students of our school," Dennis Virga, director of MCTI, said. "MCTI strives to provide the high-tech career and technical training to students along with professional skills associated with their career field to ensure individuals are properly prepared to enter the workforce. Thank you!"
Johnson, who shares the title of most Cup Series championships with legends Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt, plans to retire from full-time racing after the 2020 season.
However, the Mattioli Foundation and Pocono Raceway have stated that they will tack on an additional year of support for the scholarship for each additional year that Johnson participates in at least one NASCAR race at The Tricky Triangle.
Nick Igdalsky, director of the Mattioli Foundation and CEO of Pocono Raceway, commended Johnson for his incredible career, his work as an ambassador of the NASCAR world, and for being an all-around "champion on and off the track."
"Our extended Raceway family appreciates all he has done to support youth-based efforts to bring new fans into our sport, STEAM-related program for educators and students, and introducing inclusive initiatives, such as our infield playground, for those of all abilities to enjoy together," Igdalsky said. "The establishment of this scholar ensures Jimmie Johnson’s legacy with live on within our community for years to come."
Johnson expressed his gratitude to the Mattioli Foundation and the Pocono Raceway for the opportunity to make a significant difference in the lives of motivated young technical students. Chances are, some of those students may one day work in the field of professional racing, but no matter where they go, Johnson said he is proud to offer a helping hand through his program.
"What an honor to know that the Jimmie Johnson Legacy Scholarship will be able to make a difference in the community for many years," Johnson said. "Supporting education initiatives is important to (wife) Chani and me and is the focus of our foundation. It’s especially nice to know that this gift will help continue that mission and have an impact in the Pocono area. Thanks again to the Mattioli Foundation and track."