New 'Challenge Scholarships' Make Higher Education Possible for Local Residents

Genesee Community College's "Challenge Scholarship" program has helped 34 students enter or remain in College since its inception two years ago, the Board of Trustees learned this evening. Awards have totaled $11,942 to date.

The Challenge Program provides grants to students who face short-term financial needs or emergencies that cannot be addressed in any other way. The Genesee Community College Foundation began the program to assist students who otherwise would have to leave college or be unable to begin their studies.

To date, the majority of students who have received Challenge awards are students in their twenties and thirties with work and family obligations, said Dr. Larene Hoelcle, Vice President for Human Resources and Planning. "Often, these students are not eligible for many of the traditional financial aid programs and they have few resources of their own," she said. "They struggle to obtain an education, and when a financial crisis hits they have no way to solve it."

One student lived a long distance from the campus and needed an emergency car repair after an unexpected breakdown of her vehicle. Another student lost textbooks and supplies in a house fire. Still another student found himself short of funds for instructional supplies shortly after the semester began. "The amounts in question are usually very small, sometimes only $100 or $200," Dr. Hoelcle told the Board. "To most of us, paying $100 or $200 is not a problem, but to these students, $100 or $200 might as well be a million dollars. The Challenge scholarship makes all the difference in the world to them."

The Challenge program is funded by private contributions, but with a twist, according to Richard G. Ensman, Jr., Director of Development and External Affairs. The College has a five-year U. S. Department of Education matching grant under the federal Title III "Strengthening Educational Institutions" program. This matching grant provides two federal dollars to Genesee for every private dollar raised for the Challenge program, up to $35,000 in private contributions each year. All contributions - private and federal matching funds - are placed in a special Genesee Community College Foundation Challenge Scholarship Endowment Fund. The funds remain in the endowment fund forever, and only the investment earnings from the fund are used to finance the Challenge scholarships.

Because the program runs five years, Genesee receives $70,000 a year provided that $35,000 is raised in private contributions. Genesee raises the private funds through the Genesee Community College Foundation's annual fund raising campaign. Currently, the Foundation is in its fourth year of fund raising, and has raised $351,410, from 295 donors, for the endowment to date. By the time the matching grant expires - in another twenty months - the Foundation expects to have raised at least $525,000 for the endowment. "The Foundation hopes to continue growing this endowment," Mr. Ensman said. "And most important, the endowment will keep working for our students, year after year, making the crucial difference for students who would otherwise fall between the cracks."

In other business this evening, the Board of Trustees:

• Approved a sabbatical leave for Meredith Altman, Associate Professor of Mathematics. Professor Altman will spend the next year studying mathematics instruction in area elementary schools. As part of this study, she will actually work in a variety of elementary school classrooms as a teacher's aide observing teaching and learning styles. Professor Altman will then use her observations to revise several mathematics courses at Genesee to make them more valuable to the College's Teacher Education Transfer students, most of whom expect to find teaching positions in elementary schools.

• Heard President Stuart Steiner report that enrollment of full-time students during the Spring 2003 semester now stands at 2,351, up 14% from last spring's enrollment. Enrollment of part-time students is currently 1,214, up 3.8% from last spring's enrollment. More part-time students will be joining the College over the next several weeks as Genesee completes its enrollment for the Spring 2003 Advanced Studies program.

• Heard that Jeanette Jelfo has been appointed as a Speech Instructor for the Spring 2003 semester. Ms. Jelfo holds a B.A. degree from the University of Pennsylvania, Lock Haven and a M.A. degree from SUNY College at Brockport. She has served as a member of Genesee's adjunct faculty for three years and has served as a Career Services Coordinator and instructor at Bryant & Stratton Business Institute.

• Heard Vice President for Student Services George W. Walker provide the first report on possible Fall 2003 enrollment. Dr. Walker told the Board that, as of January 23, applications from prospective full-time students for the fall semester totaled 671, about the same as the 678 applications received one year ago that date.