A decade ago, the Southwestern Community College Foundation was only able to award scholarships to 43 students who applied for financial assistance.
This year, nearly 250 students received scholarships through the same means.
There are a lot of statistics that demonstrate the SCC Foundation’s astronomical growth under the leadership of Brett Woods, but that one – the number of students helped – has always been the over-arching goal.
“That’s the thing I’m most proud of: the number of students’ lives we’ve helped change through scholarships provided by our loyal and generous donors,” Woods said. “The success we’ve had has been a total team effort. It starts at the very top with our President, Dr. Don Tomas, and our Board of Trustees. Our Foundation Board of Directors, our Gala Planning Committee, our Faculty-Staff Advisory Committee and my colleague Kathy Posey have also been instrumental in cultivating a philanthropic culture, and the SCC Foundation is well positioned to grow even more.”
After more than nine years in his role, Woods is retiring this month. A search is underway for his successor.
One of Woods’ top responsibilities over the years has been to oversee the annual fundraising gala, which is held each fall at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort. Every year, the event has drawn a larger crowd and raised more scholarship funding than the year before.
The last two galas have sold out, and the most-recent one topped the $150,000 mark – a 20-percent increase over the 2022 event.
For Dr. Tomas and Southwestern, building off the momentum that Woods has helped facilitate is a top priority – as it has been throughout Dr. Tomas’ tenure.
The total asset value of the Foundation in Dr. Tomas’ first year (2011) was $2.59 million. In the years since, it has nearly tripled to $7.6 million.
Over the past eight years, the SCC Foundation has provided almost $1.5 million in direct student support.
In that same span, the number of endowed scholarships has more than doubled.
Meanwhile, faculty and staff giving has skyrocketed. When Woods arrived, one employee was enrolled in a payroll deduction program to support student scholarships through the SCC Foundation. Today, 52 employees do so.
During his time at Southwestern, Woods created the 1964 society to recognize estate gifts – and worked with donors on gifts now valued at close to $2 million. And graduates’ achievements are now spotlighted annually through the Distinguished Alumni Award.
“Our top goal is to help our students succeed, and the unprecedented growth of our scholarship funds through the SCC Foundation is allowing us to achieve that goal,” Dr. Tomas said. “Brett is absolutely right that it’s been a total team effort, but he deserves a lot of credit for this success. The exciting part to me is that whoever steps in to take his place will be well-posititioned to build off this momentum.”
For more information about supporting students through the SCC Foundation, contact Kathy Posey at 828.339.4227 or k_posey@SouthwesternCC.edu.
For information about the job listing for SCC’s Executive Director for Institutional Advancement, visit SouthwesternCC.hirecentric.com/jobs.