Community partnership results in college opportunities for students with limited resources
A budding relationship between River Valley Community College (RVCC) and Bio X Cell has matured into a unique way to help children who had been in foster care in New Hampshire fulfill a dream of attending college. A corporate gift to a scholarship fund ultimately led to a grant request to develop a pilot program to serve these individuals and has the potential to be replicated at other community colleges across the state.
The original gift from Lebanon-based Bio X Cell, a successful biotechnology company that offers high-quality functional grade antibodies, went to the RVCC Scholarship Fund due to an employee suggestion. After connecting to thank the company, representatives planned to tour the campus until the pandemic disrupted those plans. At the same time, RVCC President Alfred Williams learned about a small college scholarship program to support children who had been in foster care through the NH Division for Children, Youth and Families (DCYF). He discussed a pilot program in the region that also involved a transitional home in Claremont.
“We were having these conversations in parallel and when we briefed Bio X Cell on this concept, they agreed to an additional $5,000 donation to help make it a reality. This community partnership model with a local company investing with RVCC is a powerful example for others. We’re so grateful for their support to help people fulfill their educational dreams and are delighted for the opportunity to partner together to help make these dreams a reality,” said President Williams.
Through this support, RVCC is designing programs that fit the unique needs of students from a foster care background. They have developed a partnership with a local teen shelter that intends to house former foster youth. They are also working on training staff to better understand and support this population and developing peer mentoring programs. All of the modeling, best practices and data are shared with DCYF and several other colleges in the Community College System of NH for possible replication. Additionally, while targeted to DCYF students, the program resources can benefit all students in need of these support services.
Bio X Cell, located in Lebanon, recently launched the “Bio X Cell Charitable Fund” and is now in its third year. The Founder and President, Klaus Lubbe of Bio X Cell, has always been philanthropic and community-focused and wanted the company to get involved in a more meaningful way. When he founded the fund, he wanted it to be employee-driven and invited employees to join an advisory committee. The committee asked employees for ideas and Bernadina Webber was the Bio X Cell employee who suggested the RVCC donation.
“The purpose of the fund is to support the mental and physical health and well-being of members of our community. Education is hugely important to help lift people from their circumstances. When I was thinking of something that was impactful, what’s more impactful than the ability to receive an education,” Webber said.
Community partnerships have been critical during these challenges of the past year. Community college students were hit particularly hard by the economic impacts of the pandemic. The colleges, the Foundation for NH Community Colleges, philanthropic organizations and local businesses have all helped serve these students and look at ways to help them afford college through grants and gifts. For more information on how to provide direct support to students, visit the Foundation online.