Alumni, parents, and friends of the College often ask the staff of the Valencia College Foundation, “How and where can I make a donation that can make a real difference in supporting the students of Valencia College?” The answer to this important question is The Valencia Fund. The Valencia Fund is an exciting new way for donors to make a gift that enhances the educational opportunities of all students across every campus of the College. The Valencia Fund’s sole purpose is to provide educational opportunities and support that tuition and fees alone are not able to provide. Every dollar donated to The Valencia Fund provides practical help to students, whether it be with textbook costs, travel to academic or career competitions, or emergency needs to keep students in school.
Sometimes the only obstacle to a student’s success is a test a student can’t afford.
In her first semester at Valencia, Ashley Schwarz was juggling a full-time job and four classes—and coping with dyslexia and ADHD. She needed just one test and a report from a school psychologist to qualify for the accommodations her disabilities require.
Her counselor arranged for a $300 S.O.S. mini-grant from The Valencia Fund that paid for the test, and Schwarz, 19, is “super-grateful,” she says.
The Kissimmee student, who plans to become a veterinarian, is impressed with the support offered
Staff members go out of their way to guide students, she says, “a lot more than I expected any college would do.”
Laura Brito, 23, is in her sophomore year at Valencia. She’s working on her Associate of Arts degree with plans to transfer to a university offering a bachelor’s degree in sign language interpretation. “The high school I attended had a lot of deaf and hard-of-hearing students,” she says. “That’s when I fell in love with sign language.” Her parents can’t pay for college, so her financial situation has been tenuous.
“The way I started off at the College was I lived with my brother,” Brito says. “Then I decided to live on my own.” She had found a job as a restaurant hostess and had a steady income, but then reality hit.
“I was just starting school and had four classes,” she says. “I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I didn’t know how hard college was.”
Unable to juggle work and school, Brito ended up losing the job—and the apartment. That’s when she began a nomadic life, living with various friends while attending Valencia.
Then Brito ran into an unexpected financial emergency. She was faced with needing to make a choice between paying for an unexpected bill or paying her tuition. She thought she would have to drop out of school.
She met with one of her counselors and shared her predicament. The counselor was able to arrange for a $1,500 S.O.S. mini-grant from The Valencia Fund that allowed her to meet a critical financial commitment and to stay in school. She also received a textbook award to help her purchase the rest of her textbooks.
“When I was in desperate need of help, Valencia has been there for me,” Brito says.
She expects to graduate in this coming summer and is optimistic about the future, especially since being hired by the college as a part-time C-Print captionist.
“I provide real-time speech-to-text services for students who are deaf or hard of hearing,” she explains. “Valencia has encouraged me to do so much.”
None of the financial support Brito has received was a large dollar amount, but each dollar helped her to overcome an obstacle and stay in school.
I knew that if I left school, I wouldn’t come back for a long time and I wasn’t going to let that happen.”
Jason Hormuth is a student who received a textbook scholarship award. Jason shared with staff at the College that he was working full-time in construction and he wanted to continue his education so that he could get a better job and increase his earning power. Because he was working full-time, he knew it would be hard to go to class after working a full day of heavy physical labor. While the cost of the class was manageable, it was still a significant investment of his available discretionary income. He began to have doubts about whether he would stay in the class that he had signed up to take. He wasn’t sure he would also have enough money to buy the books for his class. At the moment he was on the fence about what to do, he learned he had been selected to receive a textbook award to cover the full cost of the books for his course. The few hundred dollars Jason received was the tipping point that kept him in school. Jason shared that he is profoundly grateful for the support that he received. Elvin Cruz, Coordinator of Scholarships and Special Projects at the Foundation, shared, “This is a perfect example of how even a modest gift to The Valencia Fund can have a life changing impact on the studentsat the College.”
The Valencia Fund is the primary source of financial support for the general scholarship fund at the Foundation. “A significant number of the Foundation’s donors understand that the College’s core mission is educating students. Making gifts to support student scholarships is one of the best ways to help keep Valencia affordable and to support our core mission,” says Dr. Geraldine Gallagher, President and CEO of The Valencia College Foundation.
Of the top five reasons students cite for dropping out of college, four are financial. This makes The Valencia College Foundation’s work of seeking financial support for The Valencia Fund especially urgent. Because many Valencia College students are working a full-time or several part-time jobs—as well as balancing family, community, volunteer and personal commitments—financial support for the scholarship program through The Valencia Fund makes a tremendous difference in their ability to attend college.
At that moment, I knew I had run out of excuses. I was taking the class!”
Gifts to The Valencia Fund have allowed the college foundation to make education possible for thousands of students. The power of the Valencia Fund is that no matter the size of the gift a donor makes to the Foundation, $50, $100, $500, or a $1,000, the Foundation is able to combine these gifts with those of others to touch the lives of thousands of students across all of the campuses of the College. Every dollar donated to The Valencia Fund goes to support students and the teaching and learning mission of the College.
Dr. John W. Mosser, the new Chief Philanthropy Officer of the Foundation, shared, “If a donor only had one dollar to give, The Valencia Fund is the gift designation that will allow them to have the most substantial impact in helping Valencia students.” Beyond the important projects already outlined here, gifts to The Valencia Fund also provide funding for the following: undergraduate research, student attendance at conferences and academic competitions, funding for supplies and materials for service learning and community service projects. The Valencia Fund supports bringing thought leaders, nationally prominent artists, speakers, musicians and performers of all types to campus to expand the intellectual and cultural horizons of students.
The Gift of Education
The Valencia College Foundation is the gift-receiving agency for the College. Staff of the Foundation are dedicated to helping students succeed and thrive during their time at the College. The financial resources donated to The Valencia Fund are helping students to have access to a greatly expanded array of educational opportunities, meet unexpected financial emergencies, and access resources that help keep their educational costs affordable. To make a difference in the lives of Valencia Students we invite your support for The Valencia Fund.
The Valencia College Foundation
1768 Park Center Drive
Orlando, FL 32835