ASHEVILLE NC – An A-B Tech Community College program designed to help single parents enroll in college and stay in school was in jeopardy of ending unless matching funds of $125,000 were raised. Thanks to several donors and the generosity of an area couple, the Lavender Fund will be able to continue to offer scholarships and support to single parents enrolled at A-B Tech.
The Lavender Fund was established at A-B Tech in 2008 through the generosity of an anonymous donor and the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina. The program, managed by the A-B Tech Foundation, provides scholarship opportunities to support single parents with children at home who want to go back to school to gain the education and confidence needed to change their current situation and become financially independent.
Earlier in 2012, a donor stepped forward and pledged $125,000 to continue the program if the Foundation could raise $125,000 in matching funds.
In spite of raising a significant portion from more than 100 individuals, including many A-B Tech employees, the Wells Fargo Foundation, SSC Service Solutions and the United Way, the Lavender Fund still found itself just short of the amount needed to meet the match.
Donors Ken and Ida Brown stepped forward to pledge the remainder of the needed Lavender Match ensuring more students in the region will continue to have access to the opportunities provided by A-B Tech.
“The fund was started by an anonymous donor who recognized non-traditional students have needs other than tuition. The A-B Tech Foundation set up a case management model with funds to help with students’ emergency needs such as rent, utilities or something even as basic as food,” said Sue Olesiuk, Interim Executive Director of College Advancement at A-B Tech. “Meeting our goal was also due to the efforts of the Foundation Staff and the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina (CFWNC).”
Students in the Lavender Fund program are provided access to an advisor who provides ongoing assistance, communication and resources to help meet their needs.
“Lavender has served 147 single parents with this scholarship, and the fall-to-fall retention/completion rate has remained between 88 and 93 percent since the program began,” said Liz Atkinson, A-B Tech’s Lavender Fund Advisor. The current national average rate for community colleges is 56 percent.
Another component of the grant supports the A-B Tech Student Business Incubator program for student entrepreneurs to start their own businesses. The fund provides $500 a month for students in the incubator program to offset business costs, supports the Young Entrepreneurial Scholars summer day camp for middle and high school students and provides entrepreneurial education opportunities for middle and high school students throughout the year.
Anyone interested in knowing more about the A-B Tech Foundation’s programs may contact Olesiuk at the A-B Tech Foundation at 398-7176 or [email protected]