Funding roundup

Joe Scheuermann, athletics director and baseball coach at Delgado Community College; Delgado Chancellor Larissa Littleton-Steib; New Orleans Saints and Pelicans President Dennis Lauscha; and Delgado Foundation Board Chair Lee Giorgio join Gayle Benson (center) to announce a $1 million donation to the college. (Photo: Delgado)

In Louisiana, Delgado Community College’s newest fundraising campaign got off to a good start with a $1 million donation from the Gayle and Tom Benson Charitable Foundation. The funds will go toward construction of a new athletics training and educational facility at Delgado’s main campus.

Gayle Benson, principal owner of the New Orleans Saints football team and the New Orleans Pelicans basketball team, visited Delgado’s City Park Campus this month to announce the donation and fundraising campaign – The Tradition Campaign – to the community.

“We hope that this gift and The Tradition Campaign will lead to thousands of more wins for Delgado,” Benson said.

Renderings of the new Gayle and Tom Benson Athletic Complex also were unveiled at the event. The nearly 5,000-square-foot complex will house the baseball program’s first permanent locker room, as well as coaches’ offices, equipment storage, a training room and a student-athlete academic center where players from Delgado’s sports programs can participate in study hall, tutoring and advising sessions, and team meetings.


Reedley College and partners the Fresno Regional Workforce Development Board and the Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission Local Conservation Corps received a $1.7 million grant from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL Fire). With the funds, the partners – known as the Central Valley Forestry Corps – can hasten removing dead trees in local forests, provide advanced forest health tree removal certification training to 100 students and expand an advanced forestry training program at Reedley College to address changing needs in local forests.

The training will include forestry tech and work readiness training, fuels management and on-the-job training at Camp Sequoia Lake.

The San José – Evergreen Community College District (SJECCD) can help more students attend college with no out-of-pocket costs thanks to a $250,000 donation from the eBay Foundation. The funding supports the San José Promise – specifically, the 2020 cohort of students.

The San José Promise launched in 2017 in partnership with the office of San José Mayor Sam Liccardo and other educational partners. More than 85 percent of students enrolled in San José Promise come from low-income families, and nearly all of them are the first in their families to attend college.

“San José Promise reflects our city’s collective commitment to ensuring that underserved San José high school students have the opportunity to continue their education and pursue a future with unlimited opportunity,” Liccardo said.

Also in California, the Ventura County Community College District (VCCCD) will use a $500,000 State Chancellor’s Office Mental Health Grant to help close the gap in mental health services for its about 32,000 students. The 20-month program, which begins in May, will provide services at Moorpark, Oxnard and Ventura colleges.

“This grant will help promote access, services and educational support for students who are struggling with mental health challenges,” said Cynthia Herrera, dean of strategic partnerships and planning. “We find that students who face mental health issues often postpone or delay their educational aspirations in order to seek assistance and this program can help remove barriers for students.”

An emphasis of the grant will be to enhance collaborations and build stronger partnerships with county behavioral health departments and community-based organizations to support and provide direct mental health services to students.

New Jersey

Mercer County Community College (MCCC) received a $5,000 gift from Lawrence Nespoli, retired president of the New Jersey Council of County Colleges, that will help create a scholarship. In addition, Nespoli set up a $25,000 bequest, naming MCCC the beneficiary. It will fund an endowed scholarship at the college.

“My family’s story is deeply personal as to why we wanted to start a scholarship at Mercer,” Nespoli said. “Just a few short weeks after I retired, my wife of 40 years died unexpectedly. Debbie was the heart and soul of our family, and we simply could not think of a better way to honor her life and memory that by starting a scholarship in her name.”

The Deborah and Lawrence Nespoli Scholarship Fund is one of a series of scholarships that Nespoli has set up, starting with the statewide Deborah and Lawrence Nespoli Scholarship, plus a similar scholarship at Penn State, where he first met his wife.

Jessica Ray participates in a beach plant survey at Little Beach Island, the last wild island left in New Jersey. Ray is the first staff scientist at Raritan Valley Community College’s Center for Environmental Studies thanks to an anonymous donation. (Photo: RVCC)

Also in New Jersey, a five-year, $300,000 gift from an anonymous donor has funded the first staff scientist for ecological research and restoration at Raritan Valley Community College’s (RVCC) Center for Environmental Studies.

“Philanthropic support has never been more important for community colleges, including RVCC,” noted Mike Marion, executive director of the RVCC Foundation. “This gift is not only a game-changer for the Center for Environmental Studies, it also lights the path for others in our community who may wish to create their own impact at this exceptional college.”

The center provides real-world opportunities for students to learn about protecting environmental and human health. Projects focus on such areas as water quality, forest health, sustainability, endangered species conservation and climate change.

RVCC and Rutgers University graduate Jessica Ray has filled the new position.

“Through her part-time work at the center over the past year, Jessica has made our data collection more efficient through the use of apps and cloud-based data platforms, and has become so proficient at operating our research drone that she is now beginning to set the industry standard in the state for biological surveys,” said Jay Kelly, associate professor of biology and environmental science at RVCC.


Amarillo College (AC) can continue providing free safety-training courses for area businesses thanks to a $100,000 grant from the Texas Mutual Insurance Company. The grant allows AC’s risk management program to offer no-cost courses on safety issues ranging from first aid to OSHA requirements. This is the fourth grant AC has received from Texas Mutual for safety training since 2016.

“Our commitment to Texas community colleges over the past 21 years has allowed tens of thousands of workers to get the education they need to work safely,” said Eric Bourquin, vice president of safety services at Texas Mutual. “Continuing to support these colleges so their communities have access to safety programs is something we’re proud to do as part of our mission to create a stronger, safer Texas.”

About the Author

Tabitha Whissemore
is a contributor to Community College Daily and managing editor of AACC's Community College Journal.