Genesee Community College Foundation has completed a five-year effort to match a challenge grant offered by the U. S. Department of Education in 1999 as part of a Title III award made to the College. The challenge grant has enabled the Foundation to create a permanent endowment fund of more than $500,000 to help students who face financial hardship attend Genesee.The Foundation began the project in 1999 when the Department of Education offered two dollars in endowment support for every private dollar raised by the Foundation for the new endowment fund, up to $70,000 in matching support each year. For each of the last five years, the Foundation raised $35,000 in gifts from community supporters for the fund, thereby qualifying for an additional $70,000 in matching grants. As a result, the endowment fund now has a balance of approximately $525,000.
The earnings from the endowment fund will help students who fall between the cracks of existing financial aid programs enter or remain at Genesee Community College, according to Norbert J. Fuest, President of Genesee Community College Foundation.
One of the highest priorities of the Foundation is to help ensure that all residents of the Genesee-Livingston-Orleans-Wyoming region can attend Genesee, regardless of their financial circumstances. "Fortunately, Genesee Community College is very affordable. The great majority of our neighbors either have the means to attend college or can qualify for one or more of the financial aid programs available to students today," Mr. Fuest said. "But some individuals face unusual financial pressures that may limit their ability to seek higher education. These are the students we want to help."
Students who face hardship might include individuals suffering from the death of a family member, divorce, unexpected medical costs, or temporary loss of transportation.
"Often, all it takes is a very small award to help the student overcome the financial obstacle, and enter or remain in college," Mr. Fuest said. The average award to date has been $244.The new fund - dubbed the "Challenge Fund" by the College - was made possible by the Foundation's many supporters. Said Mr. Fuest: "We are grateful for the support we have received for this endowment challenge program, as well as our many Foundation initiatives. Equally important, our students are grateful. This support represents an enormous investment in our students and in the future of our communities." The Foundation began making awards from Challenge Endowment earnings four years ago. To date, the Challenge Endowment has helped 132 students attend college. "I would emphasize that most of these students would not have been able to begin or continue their education if it were not for Challenge Endowment support," said Mr. Fuest.
Individuals who wish to obtain more information about Challenge awards or other Foundation scholarships may obtain applications at the Batavia Campus or any of the College's five campus centers. Information is also available at the College's Web site: www.genesee.edu/finaid/scholarships.cfm.Individuals who wish to make a contribution toward the Challenge program or other Foundation programs may forward gifts to the Genesee Community College Foundation, One College Road, Batavia, NY 14020.