The reality for some college degree-seeking students in Greenville is that debt looms over their heads before they even receive a degree. But there is help available through local charitable and nonprofit organizations that offer a solution to pricey tuition.
Jolley Foundation, a local nonprofit
The Jolley Foundation is one such organization. Greenvillians Robert Albert Jolley Sr. and Rucker Tweedy Jolley founded the organization in 1947 to provide financial assistance for the family’s broadcasting and wholesale beverage employees during family crises such as illness, injury, or home loss.
In subsequent years, the Jolley family’s commitment to social justice led them to establish sustainable solutions for problems that cause discrimination and poverty. The foundation also began to invest in nonprofit organizations that served community needs in a collaborative philanthropic effort.
“[The Jolley Foundation] has been using their resources to support and strengthen Greenville for seven-plus decades,” says Tish McCutchen, the Jolley Foundation’s program officer. “So now the trustees are the third and fourth generations of that family, and they are all very oriented towards social justice.”
How the Jolley Foundation benefits the Greenville community
Part of social justice is providing valuable resources to those who need it most. The Jolley Foundation regularly awards scholarships to deserving students who may not perform as well in college without the assistance. Kaitlyn Coons received a merit-based Jolley Family Endowed Scholarship in the 2017-18 school year. Amounts vary for the scholarship, but Coons says the award helped her navigate the uncertain, expensive waters of higher education.
“My advisor, professor [April] Dove, was the honors director when I was there. She was the one who encouraged me to apply [for the scholarship],” Coons says. Coons praised the scholarship application process at Greenville Technical College, noting its simplicity. “So they [Greenville Tech Foundation] make it a really nice application process, where you apply just once with them and they match you with a scholarship,” Coons explains.
McCutchen also commended Greenville Tech and explained its close relationship to the Jolley Foundation. “They [Greenville Tech] asked to change the nature of the [Jolley] scholarship fund to be more situational emergency assistance, which we thought was a great idea.”
Situational emergency assistance is pivotal in determining a student’s success. “Often students are one flat tire or one book away from not completing their course,” says Judy Wilson, director of development at Greenville Tech. This is an example of reactive assistance. McCutchen says that while providing this assistance is important and can make a difference, the Jolley Foundation continues to work with Greenville Tech to adopt more preventive measures.
“We’re willing to be agents of change,” McCutchen says. “We’re willing to use all of our different kinds of capital — financial capital, social capital, and relationships and intellectual capital, the knowledge that we havKaite as trustees — we’re willing to deploy all of those resources to create our own vision, which is a Greenville that is just a compassionate environment.”
Scholarship recipients like Coons have high praise for the Jolley Foundation. “I don’t know if I would have been as successful at Greenville Tech without the scholarship,” she says. Coons graduated from Greenville Tech with no debt; she is now finishing her education at Converse College.
“I also didn’t have to work during my associate’s degree those two years,” Coons explains. “So that was really beneficial. I could just focus on my studies. So it really did affect my life in that way where I was just able to focus on school for two years.”Coons will receive her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in creative and professional writing from Converse in 2020. In the future, she hopes to start her own nonprofit organization that supports young writers.