INA, Ill. – As the Rend Lake College Foundation prepares to host its Annual Dinner – Thursday, Dec. 1 at the Mt. Vernon Holiday Inn – its leaders take a look back at past achievements and pledge to reach new heights in years to come.
Since establishing 32 years ago the RLCF has continued to bolster the college’s services to students, campus and community. Through many new facilities and projects, RLC’s landscape has experienced tremendous change, and record scholarships are awarded to students each year. Twenty years ago, the RLCF awarded just under $45,000 in scholarships for RLC students and 10 years ago it handed out $150,000 in scholarships. This year, more than $500,000 in scholarships were awarded to 321 students at the annual banquet. To date, more than $4 million in scholarship support has been awarded to RLC students, and scholarship endowments are around $2.3 million – more than four times what they were a decade ago.
Support from contributors has been overwhelming – to the tune of $11.5 million in total donations since establishment. The Foundation’s net assets have more than doubled in a decade – now at $4.3 million – and $2.5 million has been given back to the college.
“Rend Lake College Foundation contributors have always, and will always, favor scholarships as their way of supporting the college,” RLCF CEO Pat Kern said. “And scholarships will always be foremost among the Foundation’s goals. Our supporters want to help traditional and nontraditional students find a better life through education.”
In 1992, the RLCF began accepting donations, and in 1994 launched a capital campaign called “Strengthening Institutions” where the federal government contributed double the $250,000 that was raised locally in less than five years. The total investment of $750,000 is expected to be worth around $1.1 million when the funds become available for use in 2013. The “Strengthening Institutions” grant also established the first full-time position for a Foundation director. Kern, the current CEO, is retiring Dec. 31 after nearly 15 years of leading the RLCF in milestone after milestone. Assistant Director Shawna Hall of Mt. Vernon has been named Kern’s successor. Kern will continue to work with the Foundation as a consultant.
In 2004, fund raising for a second Challenge Grant began and was complete by 2008. The federal government matched the $363,000 raised locally for a total investment of $726,000. The local funds, federal dollars and investment returns will all be eligible for use by the RLCF in 2024.
New construction and services the RLCF has been instrumental in bringing to RLC include the Aquatics Center and Children’s Center in 1998, Institute for Learning in Retirement, RLC Staff Clock Tower in 2001, Murphy-Wall Pinckneyville Campus in 2002, Hitting Zone in 2002, Sports Center in 2006, Walls of Fame and Walls of Honor in 2007, and a massive theatre renovation in 2007 – made possible by the “Friends of the Theatre” campaign.
In August of this year, the college opened the doors to its new science lab and computer center at the Murphy-Wall Pinckneyville Campus. Answering the RLCF’s campaign call, leaders of the Pinckneyville community championed the cause with $400,000 toward the project and the RLCF pitched in $160,000 to meet adjusted construction costs, purchase start-up equipment and add the computer center.
“The Rend Lake College Foundation’s success in assisting with capital projects has even surprised me, the way communities have stepped forward and the Foundation has supported those projects,” Kern said. “The Foundation’s mission, in addition to scholarships, is to provide support to enhance college services and facilities, and work on projects that recognize significant events and individuals, such as our alumnus of the year and walls of fame and honor.”
Nearly 150 corporations, businesses, organizations, groups and individuals have received Major Gift Awards from the RLCF for contributions ranging from $10,000 to more than $250,000. Another major gift from a corporation already on this list will be announced at the dinner meeting.
The Foundation invites its constituents to attend the 2011 RLCF Annual Dinner Meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 1, at the Mt. Vernon Holiday Inn. The celebration – co-sponsored by Hamilton County Telephone Cooperative and Peoples National Bank – will feature Kern’s retirement; Alumnus of the Year Ron Smith, associate head coach of men’s basketball at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale; and a major gift announcement, along with remembering past achievements and preparing to reach new heights in the future. Tickets are $35 each or $350 for a table of 10, and can be purchased by contacting the RLCF at 618-437-5321, Ext. 1214 or 1324.