Lee College Foundation prepares to award fall 2017 scholarships, host annual gala

Foundation relies on individual & corporate donors to support hundreds of worthy students  

Lee College Foundation scholarship recipient Thomas Sweeney
Lee College Foundation scholarship recipient Thomas Sweeney speaks at the annual Foundation Scholarship Breakfast in April about the scholarship awards that enabled him to pursue higher education and enjoy an enriching and rewarding campus experience. All students at Lee College are eligible for foundation scholarships, which are funded through the generosity of private and corporate donors throughout the community.

BAYTOWN, TX — The fall 2017 semester begins next month and the Lee College Foundation is preparing to award scholarships to hundreds of deserving students both new to campus and returning to continue their journey to a degree or certificate.

Many scholarship recipients would be unable to afford tuition, textbooks and other essentials without the generosity of private and corporate donors throughout the community who give to the foundation. Nearly two dozen of the new scholarships to be awarded for 2017 were sponsored by individuals – families, alumni, former employees and friends of the college among them – who believe in the importance of higher education and want to support students in reaching their dreams.

“Individuals and businesses in this community have made life-altering changes for so many of our students by providing them with financial support,” said Pam Warford, executive director of Foundation and Resource Development. “Many students just don’t have the means to pay for college, or they work and go to school simultaneously. For their community college, these advocates for education have enabled students who have the ability and the desire to achieve a degree and create a better life for themselves and for their families. I am so grateful to each of them for their continued support.”

All Lee College students are eligible to receive scholarships, regardless of their program of study or enrollment status. The Foundation Board of Directors awarded more than $470,000 in the 2016-17 academic year to full-time and part-time students, high school students earning college credit in dual-enrollment classes, offenders in the Lee College Huntsville Center correctional education program, and students taking non-credit classes through the Center for Workforce and Community Development. In addition, the foundation maintains a Student Success Fund to help students facing extraordinary circumstances pay for college-related expenses.

Though a straight-A student throughout his career at Dayton High School, Thomas Sweeney arrived at the crossroads between high school and college unsure of which way to go. He knew he could succeed academically, but difficult family circumstances meant he was limited financially. Lee College was his choice for its affordability compared to other options, and he was ultimately awarded the foundation’s Rockwell Fund and Sam Bramlett Memorial scholarships.

“I was raised in a household where I didn’t really have a whole lot of opportunities,” said Sweeney, who shared his story in April at the annual Foundation Scholarship Breakfast, just one semester away from graduation. “My dad worked a job that he didn’t particularly care for and he wasn’t in the best of health, but he persevered because he saw the value of education. That’s why he pushed my sister and I really hard in school to be successful.”

After taking several Lee College Honors Program courses and becoming involved in student organizations on campus, Sweeney was selected to present original research at two academic conferences and said he gained a greater appreciation for thinking critically about the world around him. His “enriching and self-fulfilling experience” in college would likely have been unattainable without foundation support.

“I can honestly say these generous scholarships took quite the weight off my shoulders,” Sweeney said. “It was a very rewarding experience to have my hard work receive recognition so I could continue my educational career with the peace of mind of having my financial needs taken care of. The foundation donors and board have my sincerest and deepest appreciation and respect for their generosity in allowing students like myself, and many other diverse students, the ability to achieve our goals and ambitions.”

Planning is now underway for the 32nd annual Lee College Foundation Gala, which benefits student scholarships and other forms of support. For more information about the gala or giving to the foundation, contact Warford at 281.425.6361 or pwarford@lee.edu.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 15 school systems. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Lee College Foundation Gala raises record $175,000 for scholarships and support

Foundation Board will award a total of more than $470,000 to students this academic year

Gala Fundraiser
The Thursday Night Band, a Lee College ensemble featuring students Emily Vaughan, Simon Flores, and Andrew Adams-Whitehead, performs at the 31st annual Lee College Foundation Gala, held in September at Sylvan Beach Pavilion in LaPorte. The gala raised a record $175,000 that will be used for student scholarships and other forms of support.

BAYTOWN, TX — With nearly 400 guests in attendance and $175,000 raised, the 31st annual Lee College Foundation Gala was a record-breaking success that will help ensure deserving students at all levels will have the scholarships and other forms of support they need to pursue higher education.

And while many college and university foundations only offer scholarships to students attending school full-time, the Lee College Foundation will  instead focus on meeting students’ needs wherever they are.

Under the leadership of its Board of Directors, the foundation will award more than $470,000 to students this academic year, and all are eligible: those enrolled full-time; part-time; in dual-credit classes for high-school students to earn college credits; in non-credit classes offered by the Center for Workforce and Community Development; and in the Lee College Huntsville Center prison program.

“Many of our students are surprised and amazed that somebody they don’t know is willing to donate funds to help them get an education,” said Pam Warford, executive director of the Lee College Foundation and director of Foundation and Donor Relations. “The gala provides an opportunity for industry and the community to celebrate together and gives us the chance to thank those donors, who are so loyal and proud to have their own community college that’s doing so well.”

Tax-deductible contributions from industry and private donors are also used to support the Student Success Fund, created to help those facing extraordinary circumstances pay for college-related expenses. When a student was notified that she would receive a Pell Grant for her tuition — but not before the deadline when her classes would be dropped for non-payment — the Student Success Fund helped bridge the gap. When a student received a $400 textbook scholarship but still lacked several books she needed for her rigorous coursework in the nursing program, the Student Success Fund provided the additional money to buy all the books required for her class.

“Enrollment is one thing, but students have to persist, stay the course and graduate,” said Pres. Dr. Dennis Brown. “So many little things can impede a student’s progress and we have to be able to step in and help them. Financial contributions are immensely important — more important now than ever.”

As the foundation continues in its mission to provide financial support to Lee College students, board members hope to see more donors choosing planned giving by setting up bequests, charitable trusts and annuities that will allow them to make a lasting difference for generations to come.

“I’m excited about my future,” said Emily Vaughan, a native Baytonian and foundation scholarship recipient who is active in Lee College Theatre and plans to attend Sam Houston State University to earn a bachelor’s degree in music education at Sam Houston State University. “None of this would be possible without donations. They really lightened my load.”

For more information about giving to the Lee College Foundation, contact Warford at pwarford@lee.edu or visit www.lee.edu/foundation.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Sell-out crowd expected for Lee College Foundation Gala

Highly anticipated event raises money for scholarships and other student support

Photo of those attending the 2015 Gala.
The 30th annual Lee College Foundation Gala held in 2015 drew 350 guests and raised a record-setting $150,000 for scholarships and other forms of student support. Tickets for this year’s gala have already sold out.

BAYTOWN, TX — A sell-out crowd will enjoy food, music, silent and live auctions and the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of Lee College students at the 31st annual Lee College Foundation Gala, which will be held at Sylvan Beach Pavilion to raise much-needed funds for scholarships and other forms of student support.

The gala is set for Thursday, Sept. 15, and will begin with a social hour at 6:30 p.m., followed by a seated dinner at 7:30 p.m. Entertainment will be provided by Lee College student musical ensembles and Skyline, a Houston-based band well known for deftly performing a wide range of styles — from classic rock and country to Motown, Latin, jazz and the big band sound that was popular at the historic pavilion in its heyday.

“Over the years, attendance and proceeds from the gala have increased due to the generosity of individuals, businesses and industry in this community and the surrounding area,” said Pam Warford, executive director of the Lee College Foundation. “These donors believe in education and realize that it can change lives and open doors to opportunities. Students continue to be amazed that contributors have given money to help someone they’ve never met attend college.”

The first Foundation Gala was held in the early 1980s at the suggestion of board members — both to raise money, and to raise awareness of the foundation’s mission to provide for the needs of Lee College students through scholarships and other types of student support. Under the leadership of its Board of Directors, the foundation will award more than $450,000 in scholarships in this academic year. The 30th annual Foundation Gala held last year raised a record-setting $150,000.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Foundation Gala to be Oct. 1

The Lee College Foundation Board will host its 30th annual Foundation Gala on Thursday, Oct. 1, to raise much-needed funds to support new generations of deserving students.

The gala — a highly anticipated evening of music, food and entertainment that draws hundreds of Lee College friends and supporters each year — will be held at Sylvan Beach Pavilion. The festivities will begin with a reception at 6:30 p.m., followed by a seated dinner at 7:30 p.m.

This will mark the second year the Foundation Gala has been held at the historic Sylvan Beach Pavilion, which has undergone a complete renovation since its heyday as the home of big-brass bands, the Bathing Girl Revue and the Humble Oil company picnic. Guests will enjoy a silent auction and a live auction led by Baytown Mayor Steve DonCarlos, as well as music from Lee College student ensembles.

“The gala is always unique because we focus on students, their stories and their contributions,” said Roberta Wright, chairwoman of the Foundation Board. “It’s really a showcase for them.”

The first Foundation Gala was held in 1983 at the suggestion of board member George Walmsley — both to raise money, and to raise awareness of the foundation’s mission to provide for the needs of Lee College students through scholarships and other types of support. Under the direction of its board, the foundation has awarded more than $400,000 in scholarships this year alone.