Funding roundup

Gulf Coast State College President John Holdnak and donor Julie Hilton (center) were joined by college and foundation staff during a May 19 check presentation. Hilton’s $2.5 million donation will support GCSC’s hospitality and tourism management program. (Photo: GCSC)

The hospitality and tourism management program at Gulf Coast State College (GCSC) got a big boost recently. The college received a $2.5 million donation from Julie Hilton, president of Hilton Resorts in Panama City Beach, Florida. It’s the largest single donation in GCSC’s history.

“Ms. Hilton has committed her time, talent and treasure to serve as a catalyst for real change in support of the largest and oldest of this region’s economic development and prosperity drivers – hospitality and tourism. I can’t wait to see where and how far this new partnership takes our college and the communities we serve,” GCSC President John Holdnak said in a release.

The funds will help with operating expenses to enhance hospitality management and tourism-related degree and certificate programs and will be used for staffing a Katherine Griffin Boatwright Endowed Faculty Chair for Hospitality & Tourism.

In July, the college’s Advanced Technology Center will become the Charles Hilton Center for Advanced Technology and Hospitality Management building.


With a $90,000 grant from the Johnson Controls Community College Partnership Program, Sacramento City College will expand access to its associate degree and certificate programs in mechanical electrical technology (MET). 

The college will use the funds to provide scholarships to low-income and other underserved students in the MET two-year certificate program, which trains students in heating, ventilation and cooling systems. Students will get extra support services, and the college will work with students and employers to remove barriers to quality employment in their field.


A $100,000 Google grant will help Iowa Western Community College expand its skilled trades programs.

The donation will allow the college to begin to expand offerings in fields such as welding, electrical, HVAC, logistics and other career fields, said Iowa Western President Dan Kinney.

The college is preparing to open career academies in Missouri Valley and Harlan that will offer instruction in agriculture, construction, electrical and welding skills to high school students as adults looking to up-skill.


After being asked to teach classes at St. Louis Community College (STLCC) during the spring semester, Steve Ehlen, retired supervisor of the college’s Engineering Technology Center and engineering technology department instructor, chose to donate his salary to benefit current and future students.

His salary of approximately $2,100 was used to establish the Engineering Technology Retention Fund. Its purpose is to encourage and inspire deserving students to pursue engineering technology.

When the alumnus turned supervisor/instructor turned retiree returned to campus to teach, Ehlen said he was inspired to act because of students’ needs. 

“There used to be a time when you could buy 20 resisters for 7 cents a piece, and now these things are $7. The students are being challenged by [professor of mechanical engineering] McGovern to come up with better and better projects so it’s like, ‘I can’t build the standard widget that everybody else is building, I have to build a turbo widget,’” Ehlen said.

During his 45 years in the department, Ehlen said hands-on learning is what really makes the difference.

“We can talk in front of the board all the time, lecture, show them formulas but when you get in and you let the smoke out of a part that you weren’t supposed to, you learn so much more,” Ehlen said.

Steven Ehlen presented a check last month to Tom McGovern, professor of mechanical engineering, and Steve White, dean of math, science, engineering and technology at St. Louis Community College. (Photo: STLCC)

North Carolina

Central Carolina Community College (CCCC) will use a $498,924 Golden LEAF grant to purchase training equipment for a regional truck driving and logistics program providing commercial truck driver and short-term logistics courses.

The award is part of a collaborative effort by Central Carolina, Sandhills and Randolph community colleges, which will use a scaled shared-resources model to incentivize collaboration.

“This is a unique opportunity for three community colleges to work together to ensure that high-quality, in-demand training is available across a wide region of central North Carolina,” said Margaret Roberton, CCCC vice president for workforce development.

(From left) Sandhills President John Dempsey, CCCC President Lisa Chapman, and Randolph Vice President for Workforce Development and Continuing Education Elbert Lassiter. (Photo: CCCC)


Highline College, Highline Public Schools (HPS) and their community partners have received a $1.6 million grant for the King County Promise program.

The grant comes from the King County Department of Human and Community Services and Puget Sound College and Career Network. Highline College and HPS, along with Northwest Education Access (NWEA) and Becoming a Man (BAM) of Southwest Youth and Family Services, will form the Highline Promise Partnership.

The funding will provide enhanced college and career exploration and experiences, family engagement, postsecondary transition support, and retention and completion services for males of color, starting in 10th grade through degree or certificate completion. Students placed in the program will receive direct support from advisors, case managers and education advocates to ensure they graduate high school and make a smooth transition into college.

Once at Highline College, students will receive an annual $1,000 stipend and have access to support services.

“The education system has historically disadvantaged young Black and brown men and we know the pandemic has exacerbated that in some instances,” said Highline College President John Mosby. “The Highline Promise Partnership will help elevate those students by ensuring they graduate and persist through college so they may go on to hold successful careers.”


Chippewa Valley Technical College (CVTC) has received $100,000 from Royal Credit Union (RCU) Foundation in support of remodeling the Emergency Service Education Center.

The center, which houses programs like criminal justice, emergency medical technician, paramedic and firemedic, has been under reconstruction since 2021, following voters’ approval of a $48.8 million referendum to update facilities to meet the workforce needs of the region.

While referendum dollars cover building construction and land costs, RCU’s donation will help with updated and expanded programming, equipment and other needs.

About the Author

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