AMHERST – A fundraising campaign that’s all about helping students is gaining steam at the Nova Scotia Community College’s two campuses.
Speaking to members of the Amherst Rotary Club on Monday, NSCC principal Don McCormack said the Make Way Campaign is at approximately 37 per cent of its $1.5-million goal in Cumberland County.
“It’s going very well and we’ve already a third of the way to our goal in Cumberland County,” McCormack said. “We’re really only getting started and we should really begin to see some traction in the months ahead.”
Staff and faculty have also gotten behind the program with 44 of 63 staff members at both campuses making a financial contribution.
A $25-million provide-wide fundraising initiative, Make Way was announced in October with the aim of eliminating barriers to education for those who will move Nova Scotia forward.
“I’m really excited about this because every dollar that we raise in Cumberland County stays in Cumberland County for Cumberland County students,” McCormack said. “We can really have an impact on our students going forward.”
The program is seeking to raise money for student aid in bursaries, scholarships and urgent assistance for students facing unexpected barriers to continuing their education. It also hopes to raise money for innovative programming, equipment and centers of expertise.
McCormick said the barriers students face are very real and sometimes have nothing to do with academics. He said there are examples of single parents trying to make ends meet and get an education.
“One of the things I’ve really noticed the last five years is the number of students who are really struggling to get through their programs, and I’m not talking academically. I’m talking about the financial ability to get to the end of the program,” McCormack said. “Right now the need for urgent aid is about $1,200 a month and it’s everything from the power is being shutoff to I can’t pay my rent or I don’t have any gas for my car. We’re seeing that number pretty much growing every month.”
He said there’s a widening of the gap in Cumberland County between students are in good financial shape and those who are falling into or are already living in poverty. He said it’s the little things the college can do to help a student graduate, get a job and become a contributing member to the workforce of Cumberland County.
In Cumberland County, McCormack said there are 550 students in 14 programs in both Springhill and Amherst with 60 staff. In 2016-17, $62,880 in scholarships and bursaries were handed out locally while 53 students received urgent aid totaling $12,256.