05/14/09 — WCC Foundation maintains finances despite economy

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WCC Foundation maintains finances despite economy

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on May 14, 2009 1:46 PM

Despite the economic crisis, Wayne Community College Foundation has been able to maintain its efforts to produce student scholarships, with a few simple adjustments.

Foundation Director Jack Kannan said community support and events like the annual golf tournament have kept funding afloat this year.

"Foundations have experienced the same economic downturn as people's 401-Ks," he said. "Our portfolio has dropped the same as everybody else's, which impacts the scholarships."

Some investments haven't dipped, though, allowing for interest to supplant money devoted to scholarships, Kannan said. The foundation's annual golf tournament also proved to be helpful, raising $55,000 this past year.

And then there were benefactors like Wayne Memorial Hospital, which contributed scholarship money to help bolster the college's nursing program.

"So if you look at our foundation, compared to others around us and universities, we have been able to help as many students as we have been able to in the past," he said.

One way this has been accomplished came through a recommendation from the foundation board, Kannan said. The notion centered around the college's tuition rate.

Currently, tuition for full-time students, including some of the basic fees, is $704.

"What we did at the beginning of the spring semester, the one we're in now, instead of giving the whole amount to a few students, reduced the scholarships to $600 or $500," he explained. "The feeling was that a family, or student, could better take raising $100 or $200 as opposed to the whole $700."

That will likely be the trend into the coming year, Kannan said. The move should allow the foundation to maintain the same number of student scholarships, he said.

The golf tournament has also proven to be a big funding source in the 16 years since it was introduced. Scholarships for incoming graduates from high schools for the fall have already been awarded, Kannan said, with the next round to be announced in the coming weeks.

Efforts are also being expanded to garner community support, said Kannan, who has been at the college 13 years. He recalls earlier years when it was just a small group of people contributing money.

"We have had over 750 donors for this past year -- from $20 to $20,000, so that's a huge amount of support coming from our community," he said. "We're getting more and more support from the community base ... not just the business sector."

Since the foundation's primary purpose is to provide a means for students to attend WCC, the fundraising efforts are ongoing. That means getting creative -- arts and humanities trips, speakers and other cultural activities brought to the campus -- as well as a variety of ways to donate, including memorials and endowments.

It's about building relationships with the community, Kannan says. And it's paid off in dividends in the form of support, both physically and financially, he added.

"We just finished the most exciting year in the history of the foundation," he said. "Despite the downturn of the market, we're still pleased where we are."

Hopefully that will spill over into the upcoming golf tournament, slated for June 9-10 at Walnut Creek Country Club. Kannan said he is still looking for players and sponsors for the event.

Entry forms are available online at www.wayne ccedu/golf or by calling Larry Boyce, tournament chairman, at 440-5598 or the Foundation at 735-5151, ext. 360.