Foundation makes impact on MCCC

For 20 years, the Foundation at MCCC has been enriching the lives of students and faculty.

Founded on April 27, 1998, by the Board of Trustees, the Foundation is integral to the college, according to President Kojo Quartey.

“It’s important to realize that the Foundation is part and parcel of the institution. It raises money only for Monroe County Community College,” Quartey said. “Our Foundation doesn’t raise money for anybody else.

“It supports the community in the sense that we can use the funds community members give us to help individuals in our community who may one day be students here.”

Joshua Myers has been the executive director of the Foundation since 2012, when  previous director Sue Wetzel moved on to become vice president of Administration.

“We’re celebrating our twentieth anniversary this year,” Myers said. “We do a variety of different fundraising efforts for the college. We are the philanthropic arm of Monroe County Community College.”

Myers explains that the Foundation is a separate 501C from the college. Funds are not co-mingled.

It also has an independent board largely comprised of community members, alumni, and various other supporters of the college.

“I am a college staff member that leads it from the college’s side,” Myers said.

The Foundation’s scholarships and enhancement grants are beneficial to students. It puts a sizable amount of funds towards scholarships.

“Scholarships are the thing students see the most,” Myers said. “We are actually in the scholarship cycle right now. We typically offer about a quarter of a million dollars in scholarships every year. That’s over 100 students.”

One such scholarship is the George Rhodes Writing Fellow of the Year Award. This scholarship, which honors the memory of the late Writing Fellow George Rhodes,  is awarded to a writing fellow who honors his dedication and skills in their own actions in the program.

The 2016-17 winner was Kellyann Navarre.

The scholarships are all private donor-supported, Myers added.

Enhancement grants – which Myers describes as mini-grants given to faculty and student initiatives – are especially helpful for such projects as Study Abroad.

“There’s a grant this year for the students going to London for the nursing program,” said Wendy Wysocki, head of the Global Studies Division, which spearheads the Study Abroad program.

“They are hoping to use that money to sponsor excursions to some healthcare facilities; NHS stuff.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity. Not only can they go and get global experiences, they can also see how the healthcare system works there.”

Other projects and programs the Foundation assists include Vex Robotics, Destination Dance, and One Book, One Community.

“Actually, for One Book, One Community, the Foundation’s one of the founding partners,” said Cheryl Johnston, head of OBOC. “The Foundation has been involved since the very beginning of us having a community read, even when it was The Big Read twelve years ago.

“That was funded through a humanities grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Foundation was actually instrumental in making that application and getting that funding. It provided the first roots of our having a community read for four years.”

When that grant ran out, the Foundation helped the transition from The Big Read to OBOC and continued to provide encouragement and financial support. Johnston describes it as integral to the project.

“We try to meet whatever the needs there are for the college,” Myers said.

According to Quartey, the Foundation was critical in helping raise funds for the CTC and the Meyer Theater. Those were larege “capital campaigns,” Myers said.

In addition, the Foundation is currently raising money for the college’s new Agriculture Program.

Quartey writes a personalized, unique thank you letter – by hand – to every individual who donates to the Foundation.

“Without the Foundation’s support, MCCC would not be where it is today,” Quartey said.

Student Carla Cohen also feels that the Foundation’s help is integral, referring to its assistance in funding the Agora’s annual trip to New York City for a journalism convention.

“I definitely have benefitted from the experience,” Cohen said. “It really allows someone to expand their views of the world and of journalism. Without the Foundation’s funding for this, most wouldn’t be able to go.”

Clubs aren’t left out, either.

Melissa Grey, head of the Gender and Sexuality Alliance, cites its help with the Pride Prom.

“They’ve been consistent supporters, which gives students a confidence and a starting point that they otherwise wouldn’t have,” Grey said. “Josh has always been helpful and flexible during both the application process and figuring out how to access the funds appropriately. My most vivid memories are of students enjoying themselves and having a great time at Pride Prom, and that’s where his and the Foundation’s help really shows.”

So what does the future hold for the Foundation?

Myers said there will be a celebration later this year, but nothing’s set in stone at this early stage.

“We’re in a really big planning year,” Myers said. “We’re reviewing our mission, vision, and values, as is the college. But this is an independent process. The board is going to be undertaking a strategic planning process. We’re going to be renewing our bylaws.

“It’s not flashy stuff, but it’s a good time to look back and review our direction over the next twenty years.”