Publications & Products
Volume 8, Issue 1

From Funding to Foundation: From Funding to Foundation: Game Changers for the Community

With an assist from a former Harlem Globetrotter, one community college has made a transformative social impact and promoted humanities in it's community.

In 2011, Lewis and Clark Community College was one of the first six two-year colleges to receive the National Endowment for the Humanities Challenge Grant. The institution partnered with Mannie Jackson, a former Harlem Globetrotter and current owner of the team, to transform the Edwardsville, Illinois high school Jackson attended into the Mannie Jackson Center for the Humanities.

Through a successful public-private partnership, Lewis and Clark Community College turned the grant into a multi-million dollar humanities center, with growth and research initiatives yet to come, says President Dale Chapman. 

And while it may seem impossible, community colleges have what it takes to succeed in large community transforming projects, says Chapman.

"Community colleges see themselves as experts in defining their sense of place," says Chapman. "We take the word 'community' very seriously."

The Mannie Jackson Center for Humanities is now a hub of activities that "promote mutual understanding and respect among people of different cultures, ethnicities and religions, while influencing positive social change." The Mannie Jackson Center for Humanities opened its doors in 2015 and welcomed former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell as the inaugural speaker in 2016, but the impact on the community is still evolving.

Below, Chapman offers advice for those in the process of a campaign or seeking grant funding.

Rely on your strengths. Chapman and his team focused on the institution's role in the community when developing the Mannie Jackson Center concept.

"We always had an expansive vision for where this had the potential to go, but our college culture is very entrepreneur and achievement driven and so it really matched with Mannie's values," Chapman said, adding that all community colleges have a strong identity that is important to the community.

Spend time perfecting your idea. Dedicating time to thoroughly develop your plan and build consistent branding around your pitch will pay off.

"You want something that, when people say I was really affected by what happened at Lewis and Clark, you want them to remember those moments," Chapman says. "Those values play out over time. [As a community college] you're respectful of the culture of the community and the community wants to see you make that shine."

"We tried to brand something that some people can understand, that was practical and expansive in vision," explains Chapman. "The concept has to have internal validity and sense of purpose that is validated by people's energy."

Strong leadership pays off. When the funds are secured and the vision in place, it's important to have a strong leadership team in place to drive the project home. For Chapman and the Mannie Jackson Center Foundation, Executive Director Ed Hightower has been a dynamic leader, says Chapman. The MJC Foundation also has a board, on which Chapman serves and Mannie Jackson chairs.

"They are a group of really meaningful individuals who really understand the mission," Chapman says. "They really get our efforts and what we're trying to do for the community."

This article is from the July 2017 issue of the Community College Advancement News.

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