Thanks to a significant contribution from presenting sponsor Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort and the generosity of more than 180 attendees on July 25, the Southwestern Community College Foundation’s “Bluegrass, Blue Jeans & Bling” gala yielded more than $51,000 that will be used to create the $1 million endowed Student Success fund.
Harrah’s presenting sponsorship allowed the SCC Foundation to put about 90 percent of funds raised directly into the Student Success Campaign – the most ambitious fundraising effort in college history.
“We are so grateful for the phenomenal support and hospitality of everyone at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort,” said Dr. Don Tomas, president of SCC. “Everyone seemed to have a wonderful evening, and we’re thrilled to have been able to raise this much money to benefit our students.”
The gala served as an unofficial kickoff to Phase 2 of the Student Success Campaign, which aims to raise more than $1 million. SCC successfully completed Phase 1 by fully leveraging a federal matching grant in October.
That U.S. Department of Education challenge grant doubled the first $300,000 raised by the campaign, which now has more than $700,000 in the bank.
“We’re well on our way in the ‘March to a Million,’” said Brett Woods, director of the SCC Foundation. “I continue to be humbled by the generosity of people in our community who recognize the value of Southwestern and the way we serve Jackson, Macon, Swain Counties and the Qualla Boundary.”
For the upcoming (2015-16) academic year, 226 students applied for scholarships through the SCC Foundation. Enough resources were available to fund just 61 of those requests.
The Student Success Campaign is an effort to bridge that gap between need and availability. Interest from the money raised so far is being used to fund two scholarships for the 2015-16 academic year.
“We want to do more, and we need help from the community to reach the million-dollar mark,” said Lynda Parlett, executive director of institutional development at SCC. “Our ultimate goal is to someday be able to offer a hand up to every one of our students who needs it.”