When “Uncle Jimmy” Childress became a founding member of the Southwestern Community College Foundation 40 years ago, SCC offered just two programs: automotive and carpentry.
Today, Southwestern offers more than 70 programs and serves more than 9,000 students every year through its curriculum and workforce innovations divisions.
Childress’ desire to see more area residents get a better chance at life through an SCC education is the main reason he made a significant investment in the SCC Foundation’s most ambitious fund-raising effort to date: The Student Success Campaign.
Despite the college’s growth over the years, the SCC Foundation was only able to provide assistance to 43 of the 225 students who applied for scholarships in the current school year. The Student Success Campaign has been established to bridge that gap between scholarship need and availability.
Childress donated $1,000 to the campaign, which aims to raise more than $1 million through the community’s support with the help of a Title III challenge grant that matches every dollar (up to $300,000) received by the SCC Foundation before Sept. 30, 2014.
“It’s a fabulous school,” said Childress, who built a dozen radio stations across the southeast – including Sylva-based WRGC in 1957. “When I started out on the foundation board, there was just one building. It’s amazing how it’s grown so fast. It makes me proud to have been involved.”
Along with Paul Holt and the late Paul Ellis, Childress was one of the signatories on the Articles of Incorporation forming the Foundation in 1973.
“It says so much about Mr. Childress that he continues to invest in our students after all these years,” said Mary Otto Selzer, director of the SCC Foundation. “It is because of his vision and the vision of others like him that SCC has grown into an institution that consistently ranks among the top in the state. We’re grateful for his gift, and we’re confident this donation and others like it will help dozens more students have the opportunity for a life-changing education through SCC.”