Earlier today someone asked me what exactly Dr. Stone’s very generous $500,000 endowment gift to the Foundation was doing for the college.
A $500,000 endowment is meant to create a sustained $25,000 annual budget. The original $500,000 is “untouchable” and only investment income earned beyond that up to 5% of the fund total may be budgeted in a given year. So what has Dr. Stone asked us to do with this $25,000 annual budget? The simple answer is: several wonderful things especially for our faculty and staff.
Two years ago the names of the faculty and staff of the year awards changed. The new names are the “Raymond and Rachel Stone Excellence in Teaching Award” and the “Raymond and Rachel Stone Staff Excellence Award.” This is because the first half of their endowment’s annual budget now underwrites those awards-$10,000 for the Teaching Award and $2,500 for the Staff Award. Dr. Stone felt strongly that Sandhills’ employees are our greatest strength, and to be recognized as the most outstanding in a given year should carry with it a monetary award that recognizes and reflects just how big a deal that really is.
What about the other $12,500? Beginning with the 2015-16 school year, the other half has funded several mini-grants of varying value awarded to faculty and staff proposals that are directed to the improvement of teaching and the advancement of student success. Combined with the other mini-grants the Foundation had in place, this has created a pool of $20,000 available annually for staff/faculty ideas put forward to improve teaching and learning for our students. This year we had a Foundation Board Member, Ann Hinchcliff, who thought so much of the Stones’ mini-grant idea that she has directed a $60,000 endowment gift to support an additional $3,000 mini-grant increasing the 2017-18 school year pool to $23,000!!
At Dr. Stone’s urging, we have formed a diverse group made up of the Faculty Academic Affairs Committee, administration, the business office, and the Foundation for evaluating and selecting the mini-grant recipients each year. In year one, there were 14 applications and 6 mini-grants awarded; and in year two, we received 16 application and awarded 10 mini-grants.
It is Dr. Stone’s belief that mini-grants are a way of empowering faculty and staff by giving them the resources to enact their own ideas. As a member of the awarding committee, I have to tell you it is a wonderful experience to see so many great ideas that are proposed come to life.
In 2015-16, Stone Teaching Excellence Grants helped us to purchase an Electric Kiln for our Fine Arts Programs. We were able to expand our reading basic skills programs with newly upgraded software. We were able to expand our resources for the training of firefighters. In 2016-17, Stone mini-grants are supporting Entrepreneurship Education programs in the Small Business Center, and they have helped us begin teaching mobile app technology in our Computer Technology Program. Stone mini-grants have helped purchase stability balls for Health & Fitness Science students, a new online resource kiosk for the Boyd Library, job skills software for our MLT program, hair cutting simulation software for Cosmetology, and excavation equipment for our new Archaeology course so students could do field work rather than just learn in the classroom. You may have heard that our Sandhills Archaeology Class made a find of a 10,000 year old artifact right here on campus! You may not know that happened using tools purchased through a Stone mini-grant.
-Germaine Elkins, SCC Foundation, Executive Director