Funding roundup

Palm Beach State College student Mohamed Aly Ag Mohamed Ansar received a scholarship to help him succeed in the electrical power technology program. (Photo: PBSC)

Palm Beach State College (PBSC) in Florida will use a $75,000 Lockheed Martin grant to help students in the college’s electrical power technology program navigate challenges created by the coronavirus pandemic.

Through the grant, 24 students in the associate in science degree program received $1,000 tuition scholarships and $300 for textbooks this semester. The college also purchased lab equipment and take-home lab kits for students to continue learning hands-on skills under social distancing guidelines.

“Our current students are not missing out on any hands-on skills that they would normally get in times before the pandemic,” said Oleg Andric, electrical power technology department chair.

Mohamed Aly Ag Mohamed Ansar, an international student from Mali who is in his second semester at PBSC, said he appreciates the support. His father is paying for his education, but he lost income from his second job in Mali because of the pandemic and current unrest.

“It was very generous of them. It was really a relief for me. It helped me to achieve my dream,” he said.

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Indian River State College (IRSC) will expand its HVAC, construction and solar panel technician training programs with a $2.2 million grant through the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s (DEO) Rebuild Florida Workforce Recovery Training Program.

Over the next three years, IRSC will partner with local organizations to offer tuition-free training programs for the construction industry and provide support services, such as transportation, childcare services, counseling and advising.

The award is part of the state’s $14 million commitment to launch or expand training programs for construction trades in communities affected by Hurricane Irma.


Blevins and Linda Bowlin have established a $50,000 endowment scholarship at Gateway Community and Technical College (GCTC). The scholarship will help students enrolled in nursing or energy technologies, with an emphasis on the lineworker training program.

Their donation will qualify for a matching grant through the Kentucky Community and Technical College System Endowed Match Program.

New Jersey

Union County College (UCC) alumnus Bruce Weidenburner left the bulk of his estate, valued at nearly $2.7 million, to the college’s foundation. It is the single largest individual gift made to the foundation in its history.

Both of Weidenburner’s parents – former U.S. Attorney and New Jersey Superior Court Judge Chester Weidenburner and his wife, Emily – were in the inaugural graduating class of UCC, formally known as Union County Junior College. Prior to his death, Weidenburner established an endowed scholarship with the foundation in his parents’ name to help graduates of a local high school.

“When we look back at his gift, I hope we will see how an individual’s generosity impacts thousands of lives,” said UCC President Margaret McMenamin.

New York

Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) is among 10 colleges and universities nationwide to win the Virtual Innovation Award: Excellence in Delivering Virtual Student Services from NASPA, Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.

Of the institutions, BMCC is one of the top three receiving $50,000 each for their holistic approach to virtual services. The college will use the funds to expand online services and continue to leverage technology to meet students’ needs.

Two other community colleges also were recognized by NASPA and received $15,000 each: Houston Community College in Texas and Montgomery County Community College in Pennsylvania.

North Carolina

Nash Community College (NCC) received a $20,000 grant from the Gene Haas Foundation for student scholarships and to support its machining and engineering program. The scholarships will go to students enrolled in machinist-based training or engineering programs. A portion of the grant will help to sponsor a competition highlighting the CNC manufacturing program.


Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) has received a pair of grants totaling $35,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts.

One grant supports the 42nd annual Tri-C JazzFest Cleveland, which brings world-class jazz to the city while giving local talent an opportunity to showcase their skills. A second grant supports a February 18 online performance and other virtual outreach activities by Ronald K. Brown/EVIDENCE, a dance company that integrates traditional African dance with contemporary choreography and spoken word. 


Montgomery County Community College received its largest gift in its 56-year history: $3 million from Kenneth D. Baker for the creation of the Baker Center of Excellence for Employee Ownership and Business Transformation.

Kenneth Baker

The new center will serve MCCC’s approach to workforce development by supporting county and regional businesses and their growth and training for their employees.

Baker is CEO of NewAge Industries and a proponent of employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs), in which employees receive shares in the business at no cost and become part owners of the business.

“My goal is to increase awareness and provide educational programs for this business model and other employee-employer partnerships through the Baker Center,” Baker said.

As such, the new center will assist employers and employees by providing educational programs and resources that support and promote ESOPs, as well as other programming that advances employee skills.


The family of famed Houston chef – and Houston Community College (HCC) alumnus – Hugo Ortega has donated $104,400 to the college to establish an endowment in Ortega’s name for scholarships to help culinary arts students.  

Chef Hugo Ortega

Ortega came to America with little money and few contacts in search of a better life, and drew on the fundamentals of Mexican cooking he learned from his grandmother in Mexico. He was hired as a dishwasher at Backstreet Café by his now-wife, restaurateur Tracy Vaught, who encouraged him to enroll in culinary school. They now own and operate four successful, award-winning Houston restaurants.

“My time at HCC was so special and important to me, and it means a great deal that others looking to find their dream and follow their passion will be assisted by a scholarship started by my family in my name. It is a wonderful addition to my American dream,” Ortega said.

The lobby in HCC’s new culinary arts building will carry his name.

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Temple College has received two grants to launch a new initiative that supports adults who want to return to college and complete an unfinished degree or credential.

A $293,090 grant from the Trellis Foundation will cover the cost of hiring a program coordinator and part-time recruiter. A $750,000 Reskilling Grant from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board will cover tuition and fees for program participants.

The initiative will serve adults of any age who started college at some point but stopped before earning a degree or certificate. It also will target graduates who could benefit from additional training, such as vocational nurses who seek to earn an associate degree to become registered nurses, or community members who lost their jobs due to the pandemic.

“Our goal is to help adults complete credentials that will better enable them to prosper,” said Temple College President Christy Ponce.

Some of the money from the Trellis Foundation grant also will help to provide professional development for faculty to better serve adult students.

About the Author

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