SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – South Plainfield residents Dominic Ciaccio and Nzinga Porter were recently named recipients of Work Ethic Scholarships from the mikeroweWORKS Foundation. This year, 223 individuals attending vocational and trade schools throughout the United States received scholarships totaling $1,050,000.

"Today I’m pleased to announce this year’s scholarship recipients. This year, the response to our program was unprecedented, with nearly a thousand people applying for Work Ethic Scholarships," the program's founder Mike Rowe, a TV host, writer, narrator, producer, actor and spokesman who hosted the Discovery Channel’s ‘Dirty Jobs,' in a July 12 Facebook post. "Phenomenal, gratifying, and deeply encouraging."

In September 2008, Rowe launched mikeroweWORKS, a PR campaign designed to reinvigorate the skilled trades and, today, runs the mikeroweWORKS Foundation, which awards scholarships to students pursuing a career in the skilled trades. 

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"We’re redefining the definition of a good education and a good job, because we don’t think a four-year degree is the best path for most people. We want people to understand the impact of skilled labor on their lives, and we’re convinced that the solution has to start with a new appreciation for hard work," states Rowe.

Through the foundation, the goal is to 'help close the skills gap by challenging the stigmas and stereotypes that discourage people from pursuing the millions of available jobs.' Each year, the foundation awards money through the Work Ethic Scholarship Program ( to help people get trained for skilled jobs that are in demand. 

"We’ve proven that opportunities in the trades aren’t alternatives to viable careers – they are viable careers. Through this program, we encourage people to learn a useful skill, and we reward those who demonstrate that they’ll work their butts off. When it comes to hard work, there is no alternative," Rowe states. 

"The Work Ethic Scholarship Program is about recognizing the people who understand the importance of personal responsibility, delayed gratification, a positive attitude, and, of course, work ethic. The hardworking men and women who keep the lights on, water running, and air flowing - the next generation of skilled workers who will work smart and hard. These are the folks we consider rock stars, and we want to reward them," he added. 

Since its inception, the foundation has granted, or helped facilitate the granting of, more than $5 million in Work Ethic scholarships and other like-minded programs or initiatives that also work to close the skills gap. 

According to Rowe, the scholarship program would not be possible without the financial support from generous companies and corporations 'who share [the foundation's] commitment to closing America’s skills gap.' They include, but aren’t not limited to, the Charles Koch Foundation, Koch Industries, Troesh Family Foundation, PA Chamber Foundation, Wolverine, Moen, Ferguson Cares, Piedmont Airlines, Gray & Son, TBN, DCA, and HomeServe as well as the Omaze campaign through which over $218,000 was raised for work ethic scholarships. 

"I want to personally thank everyone at mikeroweWORKS for going above and beyond the call of duty in these extraordinary times," he stated, extending personal thanks to Jade Estrada, Chuck Klausmeyer, Mary Sullivan, Lara Jones, Libby Correa, Sally Hoffman, and Shari Lobdell for keeping 'the wheels on the bus.' "Forty other individuals assisted us in the review process this year. You know who you are, and you know how much I appreciate your help. Thank you all, sincerely," stated Rowe.

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