Funding roundup

Malú and Carlos Alvarez are providing a $1 million to the Alamo College District to fund scholarships for AlamoPROMISE students. (Photo: Alamo Colleges District)

The Alamo Colleges District has announced a $1 million gift from Malú and Carlos Alvarez to fund scholarships for AlamoPROMISE students to help them reach their educational goals.

“Mr. and Mrs. Alvarez recognize the challenges students face in enrolling in college and completing their educational goals, and they also know how critical financial assistance, such as that offered by AlamoPROMISE, is to helping students to overcome these challenges,” Chancellor Mike Flores said in a release. “We are honored and grateful for their generosity that will help so many students achieve social and economic mobility.”

The Alvarez family previously provided a major gift to the district to help its students. In 2002, Carlos Alvarez established the Gambrinus Scholarship Endowment with a $500,000 matching grant. That endowment now totals $1 million. (The Gambrinus Co. is a family-owned business in San Antonio known for selling and marketing Shiner Beers.)

“Malú and I have been committed to education for a long time, and over the years we have supported many scholarship recipients,” Carlos Alvarez said in a release. “It is extremely gratifying to us that our first large commitment was to the Alamo Community College District Foundation to fund the endowment for the Gambrinus Scholars. At that time, nearly 20 years ago, we felt that this institution was the best investment vehicle to help students with limited financial resources find realistic pathways to a college education. Today, our support for AlamoPROMISE reaffirms and builds upon this belief.”

Already 3,000 eligible high school graduates have enrolled this fall as AlamoPROMISE Scholars, and recruitment efforts for fall 2021 are underway, according to the college.


NorthWest Arkansas Community College (NWACC) has recently received two major grants from foundations, one for a specific program and another for the college’s capital campaign.

Brightwater: A Center for the Study of Food, which is the college’s culinary school, has received a $1.8 million grant from the Walton Family Foundation to support its operations, develop new programs, increase professional development opportunities, and provide an overall safe educational environment.

Brightwater plans to use the grant to continue its educational efforts, develop new programs that focus on food entrepreneurship, bar and beverage management, and whole health and wellness, as well as a registered apprenticeship program and professional development.

The grant also will support Brightwater’s mission to offer a safe educational experience during the pandemic, according to the college. It plans to create two new classrooms so students have more space to socially distance and increase classroom technology for remote instruction and digital recordings of lectures and demonstrations.

“Brightwater is a unique program in the culinary industry that offers accessible workforce training opportunities in a world-class facility,” said Karen Minkel, director of the Walton Family Foundation Home Region Program. “The school’s well-rounded programs will prepare the next generation of entrepreneurs who will help strengthen the local hospitality industry.”

NWACC’s foundation also recently received a $250,000 gift from the Willard & Pat Walker Charitable Foundation in support of the NWACC NOW! capital campaign that is raising funds for a new facility. In recognition of the gift, the college will name the facility’s information commons the Pat and Willard Walker Information Commons.

The goal of the capital campaign is to raise $12 million for a new 38,000-square-foot NWACC faculty in Washington County and to grow the college’s presence in Northwest Arkansas to meet the needs of the community and future generations of students.

“Mom and dad made our home in Springdale,” said Johnny Mike Walker, board chair of the Willard & Pat Walker Charitable Foundation. “The Walker Foundation is thrilled to be a part of the expansion of NWACC in Springdale and to provide our hometown with greater access to quality higher education.”


The Robert W. Woodruff Foundation recently granted the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) Foundation $1 million to support students in the state’s 22 technical colleges. Through The Last Mile Fund, the grant aims to improve student retention and graduation rates by providing needs-based financial assistance to technical college students.

“Keeping a student on track to graduate and become gainfully employed is our primary goal at TCSG,” Commissioner Greg Dozier said in a press release. “With this transformational gift, we can provide much-needed support to more students who would otherwise not be able to continue their education due to financial barriers.”

The TCSG Foundation has awarded more than $245,000 in student aid through The Last Mile Fund since it started in 2016.


The Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) has granted $18.7 million to community colleges in the state to address education and unemployment gaps in the African-American and other minority communities. The funding will go toward 17 community colleges that serve larger African-American populations under Illinois’ Workforce Equity Initiative, now in its second year.

Participating colleges can use the funds to develop or enhance training and career pathway programs in primarily five high-demand job sectors: health care, manufacturing and construction, transportation, information technology and emergency services.

“We know there is great demand for accelerated occupational training programs like the ones offered through the Workforce Equity Initiative,” ICCB Executive Director Brian Durham said in a press release. “This money will support so many African-American Illinoisans by not only providing free training programs that will turn into solid paying jobs but also by providing a wide range of wraparound services to address basic needs like childcare and transportation.”

While the first year of the initiative was affected by the pandemic, demand remained high with 1,840 Illinoisans (78% of whom are African-American) enrolling in spring 2020, according to ICCB. In 2021, the initiative will expand from 15 to 17 colleges, with grants ranging from $589,364, to $1.2 million each to seven colleges, including Illinois Central College, Kennedy King College, Lincoln Land Community College and Olive-Harvey College.


SOWELA Technical Community College is getting financial assistance from Cheniere Energy with a donation of $100,000 through the Louisiana Community and Technical College System (LCTCS) Foundation to help it with campus repairs following damage caused by hurricanes Laura and Delta.

Cheniere Energy allocated $50,000 of the donation to SOWELA’s Hurricane Laura Disaster Relief Fund, which will help repair many of the 13 buildings on the college’s main campus. Minor damage is being repaired now at SOWELA’s two satellite campuses.

The remaining $50,000 will help SOWELA’s process technology program repair a damaged shelter that houses one of the college’s hands-on operations training units that provides realistic, practical training for student operators.

“Cheniere began its partnership with SOWELA with a commitment to build a strong workforce and economy for Southwest Louisiana,” said Jane Uebe, Cheniere’s director of training. “This year’s unprecedented challenges have impacted Southwest Louisiana, and we recognize that without these funds, students would be at risk of having to suspend their educational pursuits. We’re proud to contribute to the resilience of SOWELA, its students and all of Southwest Louisiana throughout this difficult time.”


Quinsigamond Community College’s radiologic technology (RT) program will soon have upgraded instructional imaging equipment thanks to a $70,790 grant from Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts.

The new digital radiography equipment will help prepare students for their clinical rotation, the college said. Most hospitals now use digital radiography equipment instead of the more traditional imaging, it added.

The program admits up to 20 students per year, depending on the number of available clinical placements, and has clinical affiliations with several local healthcare facilities.

New Jersey

The Union County College Foundation received a $50,000 donation from Santander Bank to fund the Santander First-Generation Honors Scholarship.

The donation will provide a $2,000 scholarship to 25 Union Honors students over the next year to help them remain on track towards completing their associate degree or certificate. The scholarship will cover a significant portion of tuition for the year and will allow recipients to focus on their studies for their continued success, according to the college.

To qualify for the scholarship, a student must be a member of Phi Theta Kappa or enrolled in the American Honors program at Union County College.


Madison College has received a $25,000 donation from the WPS Charitable Foundation to help selected students earn an insurance certificate. The foundation is part of the Wisconsin Physicians Service Insurance Corp.

The Urban League worked with Madison College to enroll students in the 14-credit Insurance Certificate for the Business Professional program under full scholarships. WPS currently is funding eight students. Participants will graduate in spring 2021 and will receive ongoing support, career advising and opportunities for employment with WPS or other local employers after graduation.

About the Author

Matthew Dembicki
is editor of Community College Daily and serves as publications director for the American Association of Community Colleges.