Residents of Meadow Lakes in East Windsor, NJ, recently gave some of the continuing care retirement community’s employees the ultimate back-to-school supplies: $62,000 in grants to help defray the cost of tuition.

Thirty-one part- or full-time employees (pictured below) received up to $2,000 each from the Meadow Lakes Education Award Fund, which was initiated and is funded by residents. “This is the residents’ way of saying thanks and paying it forward,” says Jane Brewer, a resident who chairs fund efforts.

“The residents are very invested in the initiative, and the students are as well,” says Mary Kelly, a communications specialist with parent Springpoint Senior Living.

Those residents literally are paying it forward—and have been since 2002. And the generosity is contagious. Some sister CCRCs have started similar programs, Kelly says.

At Meadow Lakes, members of the selection committee interviewed employees and read their essays describing their proposed future careers and the influences leading to their professional choices. The resulting 2015 grant recipients are pursuing degrees in business administration, medicine, nursing, physical therapy, sociology and other subjects at George Washington University, Quinnipiac University, the College of New Jersey, Rider University, Rutgers University, Mercer County Community College and other institutions. Eligible employees can receive grants in more than one year.

“Springpoint Senior Living is really one big family,” Kelly says, adding that residents and staff enjoy working together to benefit one another.

And sometimes, grant recipients stay in the family. Kelly shares the story of one employee who worked in the hospitality area at Meadow Lakes, received a grant to help with expenses toward his accounting degree and returned to work as an accountant in the corporate offices once he earned that degree.

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Lois A. Bowers is senior editor of McKnight’s Senior Living. Follow her on Twitter at @Lois_Bowers.