Community partners help Greenville Tech grow the area workforce

Greenville Tech Foundation is poised to honor an individual benefactor, the Jolley Foundation and Lockheed Martin.

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A Lockheed-funded classroom at the South Carolina Technology and Aviation Center's aircraft facility. Photo by Will Crooks

Greenville Tech Foundation, the nonprofit that helps Greenville Technical College provide a college education at a reasonable cost and helps remove financial barriers to graduation, will salute a $2 million donor, a sister area foundation, and a major aerospace company at this year’s Workforce Development Salute.

Dodie Anderson, the Jolley Foundation, and Lockheed Martin will be honored at the gala as outstanding examples of community partnership. The honorees will be recognized for their role in making significant contributions in support of Greenville Tech students so they can develop specialized knowledge, complete their degrees, and land job offers in their chosen fields.

This year’s salute will be held on Thursday evening, Oct. 3, at the Hyatt Regency Greenville.

The honors come on the heels of Greenville Tech’s decision last year to reshape its academic divisions into six schools that correlate with target industries for growth as defined by the Greenville Area Development Corp.

The new schools are: School of Aviation, Construction and Transportation Technologies; School of Business and Computer Technology; School of Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Technology; School of Health Sciences; School of Education and Professional Studies; and School of Arts and Sciences.

“Companies have needs, and we are constantly meeting with them, listening to them, asking them, ‘Are our students meeting your needs?’” said Ann Wright, vice president for advancement at Greenville Tech Foundation. “There’s many things that we didn’t even know or conceive of as little as 10 years ago that are needed today. So it’s imperative that we meet often, especially with our employers, to make sure that we are providing an education that then turns out an individual who is able to work for them in a meaningful way.”

According to Greenville Tech Foundation’s 2018 Impact Report, corporations and corporate foundations made just under $1 million in gifts, or 40% of the total $2.38 million in contributions, received by Wright’s foundation during the past year. Individuals – some associated with businesses, some not – contributed just under 40%. Foundations weighed in at 15% of total contributions; gifts-in-kind, 4%; and governmental and other organizations, 2%.

View Greenville Tech Foundation annual reports

Nearly half of all gifts made in 2018 went to endowed and restricted funds. Twenty percent went to student scholarships and about the same amount provided college educational support. The balance was used for purchased equipment or in-kind equipment such as airplanes for the school’s aircraft maintenance program and a tractor-trailer for its diesel technician program.

Greenville Tech Foundation
Ann Wright, vice president for advancement at Greenville Tech Foundation. Photo by Will Crooks.

More than 60% of Greenville Tech’s students receive financial assistance, Wright said, many of them with limited family resources. A $40,000 fund created to meet the emergency needs of 101 students has helped defray the cost of their rent, utilities, medical bills, bus passes, and other expenses that can prevent students from completing their education.

More than $427,000 in scholarships was also awarded to 318 students last year.

In terms of ongoing needs within Greenville Tech’s six schools, Wright cited a “constant need” for upgrades to such things as 3D printing equipment and robotics at the Center for Manufacturing Innovation adjacent to the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research. The facility will house the advanced manufacturing/engineering technology school.

As for the business and computer technology school, “We would love to have someone that would endow that school … the facility is on the Barton campus but it’s in the original building, which is about 60 years old now,” Wright said.

Apprenticeships

In addition to gifts, Greenville Tech works directly with companies to create and grow apprenticeship programs.

The college’s involvement with apprenticeships began nearly a half-century ago when international companies first landing in the Upstate approached the school for help in recruiting workers with specific skills, said Susan Gasque, Greenville Tech’s director of experiential learning.

South Carolina Technology and Aviation Center
A Lockheed-funded classroom at the South Carolina Technology and Aviation Center’s aircraft facility. Photo by Will Crooks.

About 250 students a year participate in some form of apprenticeship coordinated through her office, Gasque said, with the greatest demand coming from the manufacturing and technology sector. “The employer will sometimes self-select and send them to us for training,” she said.

The BMW Scholars Program, launched by the automobile manufacturer in 2011 with the support of Greenville Tech, recruits from five different programs of study at the college, she added.

Gasque credits Apprenticeship Carolina, a government-backed technical college program launched in 2007, with doing “an excellent job of getting the word out to employers” about registered apprenticeships that involve on-the-job training, job-specific education, and an expectation that workers’ earnings will increase as their skills grow.

Workforce Development Salute

The trio of contributors that Greenville Tech Foundation selected for recognition this fall will help raise awareness about the opportunities and programs provided by the college to meet workforce goals, Wright said.

Now in her 90s, honoree Dodie Anderson arrived on the Greenville Tech campus at age 50, looking for business training. After completing her two-year degree and earning a bachelor’s degree at what is now USC Upstate, Anderson and her husband transformed their plywood manufacturing company into Anderson Hardwood Flooring.

Greenville Tech Foundation

Last year, Dodie Anderson announced a $2 million gift to Greenville Tech, enabling it to create the Dreisbach/Anderson Student Success Center, which will house all of the student services that help attendees remain in college. The facility is scheduled to open on the main campus in 2020.

The Jolley Foundation has supported Greenville Tech’s students for more than 20 years. Its mission – advancing efforts to eliminate the root causes of poverty and discrimination – has taken the form of scholarships, equipment purchases, and student emergency funds.

Lockheed Martin began supporting the college in 1994. To date, its gifts total $568,000. The company has created an endowed scholarship for aviation maintenance training and has funded computer training and equipment. It also helped establish centers for veterans transitioning to college on the main campus and at three satellite locations.

More information on the Oct. 3 event is available at greenvilletechfoundation.org

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