The Moraine Valley Community College Foundation has received an $80,000 donation from Maribis LLC to establish an endowed scholarship. The Maribis Lou Dineff Memorial Scholarship will support five annual $1,000 scholarships for students enrolled in the college’s Cannabis Retail Specialist Certificate Program. Earlier this year, company founder and CEO Laurel Dineff of Maribis and Bedford Grow, donated $85,000 from Bedford Grow to start the Bedford Grow Lou Dineff Memorial Scholarship, which also supports five annual $1,000 scholarships for students in this certificate program.
Both scholarships are named in honor of Laurel’s brother, Lou, to recognize his dedication to encouraging the state to legalize medical cannabis after a family member, who suffered from multiple sclerosis and was told by a doctor she could have been helped by medical cannabis, was unable to legally be prescribed this alternative therapy.
Laurel decided to make a second state-mandated contribution to Moraine Valley because it offers an approved certificate program to train students for employment in this emerging industry that will need many skilled workers, and she wanted to support the local community. “We felt we benefitted in the region by Moraine Valley educating students. We wanted to contribute from the dispensary side of the business because we know that will benefit our stores with future graduates in the marketplace,” said Paul Chialdikas, Bedford Grow’s vice president.
Mari Unzueta, one of the first recipients of the Maribis Lou Dineff Memorial Scholarship, hopes to earn the Cannabis Retail Specialist Certificate and get a job in a dispensary. “After I’ve gotten some experience there, I’d like to go back to school for more classes to get a business degree and possibly open my own business,” she said. Mari is only the second person in her family to go to college and the first to receive a scholarship, which she said has taken away significant financial pressure. “It’s letting me pursue something I’m interested in, and it means everything to me because without this scholarship, it would be hard for me and my family,” Unzueta said.
Kristy McGreal, executive director of the Foundation, expressed her gratitude for the new scholarship and said, “The support from Maribis will impact our students and new Cannabis Retail Specialist Certificate Program for decades. This scholarship ensures funding for a pipeline of students looking to break into this emerging industry. We appreciate their forward thinking and long-reaching donation.”
Maribis opened two medical cannabis retail dispensaries six years ago after medical cannabis was legalized. When the recreational cannabis law was passed last year, they opened two adult-use cannabis stores, and their original facilities now offer both medical and adult-use cannabis products. Bedford Grow is one of the leading developers and cultivators of medical-grade and adult-use cannabis products in the state.