St. George – One ex-prison inmate has made it his mission to help children of prisoners go to college. He’s offering scholarships for these forgotten victims of crime.

Karl “Willy” Winsness once served 17 years in a Utah prison. When he was released, he set out on a plan to become an advocate for higher education specifically for children of prison inmates. He even used his own funding to back the cause.

His goal was to help children with incarcerated parents continue their educations after high school. People forget that it is their parents’ crimes or alleged crimes that leaves them without one or more of their parents in their lives.

Karl “Willy” Winsness started the Willy the Plumber Scholarship Program for the Forgotten Victims of Crime

Karl “Willy” Winsness started the Willy the Plumber Scholarship Program for the Forgotten Victims of Crime
Image Source: St George Utah

Who Are the Forgotten Victims of Crime?

Children of prisoners are often lost in the shuffle of life. After high school, many don’t have the guidance and support they need to push further with the educations. This is why people deem them the Forgotten Victims of Crime.

Prison kids generally face extraordinary challenges many other children don’t. They deal with emotional stress many adults can’t even imagine, simply because they’ve “lost” a parent. This often leads to economic hardship.

It’s no wonder many children of prisoners don’t even think about attending college after high school.

Willy Winsness is the owner of West Valley City, Utah’s Karl’s Affordable Plumbing. He wanted to help address some of the challenges faced by children of prisoners related to higher education.

So, he started the Willy the Plumber Scholarship Program for the Forgotten Victims of Crime… children of incarcerated parents.

Prison Kid Tiffany Harris Wins Willy the Plumber Scholarship

Tiffany Harris is one of the recipients of the scholarship for 2017. The Santa Clara teen will be attending Brigham Young University. She plans to major in biochemistry.

Ms. Harris was raised by her grandparents, who took custody of her when she was very young. Her dad was serving time in prison. And, her mom didn’t have a stable home.

Tiffany Harris was raised by her grandparents after her dad went to prison.

Tiffany Harris was raised by her grandparents after her dad went to prison.
Image Source: St George Utah

One time, in 2008, Tiffany finally got to meet her father. Although he’d been in and out of California prisons (CDCR) throughout her life, that was the one and only time she ever saw him.

Harris applied for the scholarship by submitting an application and an essay. In May, she was notified that she was one of the winners of this year’s scholarship. There was one other prison child awarded this scholarship for 2017.

For 2017, each recipient was awarded $1,000 if they were new students. If they were already in college or learning a skilled trade, they received $500. Scholarships are now funded through donations. So, annual amounts are based on donations received.

Scholarships for Children of Incarcerated Parents

St. George Utah reports:

“Applications will be available online in February 2018 at the Community Foundation of Utah website.”

“’It’s up to me, the public and the Utah State Prison inmates to make sure that this scholarship keeps working,’ the scholarship’s creator said.”

“Support for the Willy the Plumber scholarship is much needed for the next school year. To find out more or make a donation, visit the scholarship website.”

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Do you know of any other scholarships for the Forgotten Victims of Crime? Prison kids really need extra support when it comes to higher education. So, please share any scholarships for children of prisoners in the comments section below.

Kiesha Joseph is the owner of Content Marketing Geek Corporation. Her company provides white hat, inbound marketing services for small businesses, entrepreneurs, real estate professionals, bloggers and authors. Ms. Joseph enjoys swimming, cooking, eating, dancing, and of course writing. Kiesha is currently the managing content editor for Prison Rideshare Network news for inmates’ loved ones.