PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Even though the economy took a nose dive more than a year ago, it’s not evident by looking at the financial statements of the Northern Maine Community College Foundation.
Foundation officials announced earlier this week that the group saw double-digit growth in donations to the organization and in dollars raised through fundraising initiatives over the previous fiscal year. The foundation also saw a marked increase in student scholarship disbursements.
The foundation, a nonprofit organization, benefits the campus community by raising and managing student scholarship funds and other special initiatives that help students receive postsecondary degrees at NMCC.
Despite the challenging economic times, the NMCC Foundation saw a 60 percent growth in donations and 29.5 percent increase in fundraising revenue in the fiscal year, which ran from July 1, 2008, through June 30, 2009, compared to the previous year.
Newly established scholarship funds, additional gifts from donors to existing scholarship funds and donations raised through last year’s major gifts campaign resulted in 44 percent more in scholarship disbursement over the previous year.
“It was an exciting year,” Brian Hamel, incoming foundation board chairman, said Thursday afternoon. “Our donors went above and beyond in a very tough economy.”
Richard Engels, outgoing NMCC Foundation board chairman, said the foundation raised $2.5 million during its first-ever major gifts campaign last year. With that money in hand, the foundation went to work this year instituting a number of projects on campus.
That included the official opening for the Allied Health Simulation Center, a first-of-its kind simulation center for nursing and health students and medical professionals in the northern part of the state. The center includes technologies such as human patient simulators and computer equipment with instruction space. Also opened was the new Business Technology Center, which is based on a business training facility at MMG Insurance.
Extensive renovation work was completed on NMCC’s Christie lecture hall, which officially reopened in July and was named after the late foundation board member and NMCC supporter Peter G. Hunt Sr.
Hamel said he has several goals as the chairman of the board next year.
“One of our goals is an alumni initiative,” he said. “The foundation would like to cultivate a relationship with our alumni to educate them about the things we are doing at the college and our future plans. We also want to continue to disburse as many scholarships as we can. We have been very successful so far, and it is a huge benefit to our students. No matter the size, these scholarships go a long way to help students during a very difficult time.”
Hamel said the group also would seek out national foundation grants to accomplish even more projects on campus.
The incoming chairman said he believes that the generosity of donors will continue through 2010.
“The economy has weakened and has hit many people hard,” he acknowledged. “But I feel that our donors gave as much as they could because they saw what a fine institution NMCC is and its effect on the community. The college trains a huge portion of the local workforce, and that training opens doors for our graduates. The foundation has worked to make sure that NMCC students have the tools they need to come out of this college even more highly trained. The donors see that success, and it makes it easier for them to give more and know that it is going to a successful cause.”