Through this gift, the anonymous donor hopes to inspire and motivate others to give to the program that college and regional leaders anticipate will help reverse regional declines in population, workforce participation, community involvement and college completion rates.
Sauk Valley Community College announced the receipt of a $1 million dollar gift to support the SVCC Impact Program. The anonymous donor hails from the Whiteside county town of Fulton, Illinois, which is included in SVCC’s six-county service area. This is the largest one-time gift from an individual in SVCC’s 56-year history and will fund pilot programs in the Fulton and Prophetstown school districts.
College President, Dr. David Hellmich, praised the generosity and vision of the gift, “On behalf of the students whose lives will be impacted, I am incredibly grateful for this transformational gift. This act of philanthropic leadership will transform lives and help propel the region into a period of increased growth and stability.”
Through this gift, the anonymous donor hopes to inspire and motivate others to give to the program that college and regional leaders anticipate will help reverse regional declines in population, workforce participation, community involvement and college completion rates. In 2018, SVCC, the Sauk Valley College Foundation Board of Directors, and external community leaders began work to develop and customize an earned-tuition program that would open doors of access to higher education for thousands of prospective students. Based on national promise program models, but unique to the Sauk Valley, the college and foundation designed the Impact Program with specific regional needs in mind.
As the centerpiece of the college’s vision to expand access to higher education across the Sauk Valley region, the SVCC Impact Program will provide high school students residing in Sauk’s district the opportunity to earn up to three years of tuition and fees toward completion of degree or certificate programs. To qualify for the program, students will be required to:
- Commit to the program by September of their freshman year of high school
- Graduate on time or early from high school or home school program
- Apply for at least one local state or federal scholarship
- Complete the free application for federal student aid (FAFSA)
- Complete at least 25 hours per year of community service for a total of 100 hours
The cost of books will be covered for students who graduate in the top ten percent of their present high school class.
Once in the program, Sauk students will be required to maintain good academic standing, enroll in a certificate, degree or transfer program, and complete 25 hours of community service for each year enrolled in the program, up to three years.
Early investment like this historic gift will allow the college, in partnership with Fulton and Prophetstown administrators, superintendents, civic leaders, teachers, counselors, and parents to jumpstart program implementation and allow those students to begin earning their tuition and fees a year earlier for future enrollment at Sauk starting in 2025. Information sessions have already begun in the respective school districts and interest has been very high from parents and students alike. The program is scheduled to begin for all of Sauk’s in-district students in 2026. It is estimated that over 1,200 students could be earning their tuition by 2028.
The gift to the program comes during the ongoing endowment campaign, We are the Future. Launched in 2018, We are the Future is the largest fundraising campaign in SVCC’s history. The campaign is currently in the quiet phase of a multi-million multi-year effort to secure private, municipal and corporate funds. Dean of Institutional Advancement, Dr. Lori Cortez, shares, “The SVCC Impact Program initiative will help hard-working students achieve their goals and make their mark on the region. Our mission is to get students in the class, get that degree or certificate in their hands and get them working, living and contributing to the growth of our communities. This $1 million gift represents a large step toward making that happen and is a powerful demonstration of confidence in the Impact Program to unlock the potential of Sauk Valley area students for generations to come.”