The WKCTC Guarantee
On December 15, 2020, West Kentucky Community and Technical College proudly announced a $15 million gift from author and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott - the largest gift from a single donor in the college's history.
In announcing the donation, Scott gave accolades for the college's work on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and initiatives to further opportunities for low-income and disenfranchised students under the leadership of Dr. Anton Reece, WKCTC president since October 2016.
"On behalf of the WKCTC family, internal and external stakeholders, and colleagues across the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, I am honored and deeply humbled by the recognition and unmatched magnitude of this historic announcement," Dr. Reece said at a press conference at the college's Student Center December 15th.
"MacKenzie Scott exemplifies the incredible and transformative power of philanthropy and long-standing commitment to equity and social justice by providing resources to meet the complex needs of diverse, first generation, lower socioeconomic and historically marginalized populations."
The gift has been donated to Paducah Junior College, Inc., which is the foundation for WKCTC.
In 2019, Scott pledged to give half of her wealth to charity. In July 2020, the philanthropist wrote in the post, "116 Organizations Driving Change" about her first group of recipients of significant gifts, with the selected organizations "having major impact" in the areas of race equity, LGBTQ+ equity, economic mobility, empathy and bridging divides, functional democracy, public health, global development, or climate change.
Ninety-one (91%) percent of the racial equity organizations who received Scott's first gifts in July are run by leaders of color, 100% of the LGBTQ+ equity organizations are run by LGBTQ+ leaders, and 83% of the gender equity organizations are run by women, "bringing lived experience to solutions for imbalanced social systems," Scott wrote in July. "Driven by a deep belief in the value different backgrounds bring to problem-solving on any issue, we selected for diversity in leadership across all categories of giving, supporting vital variety of perspective and experience in solutions on every cause. All of these leaders and organizations have a track record of effective management and significant impact in their fields. I gave each a contribution and encouraged them to spend it on whatever they believe best serves their efforts."
After her initial gifts, Scott asked a team of advisors to help her accelerate her 2020 giving through immediate support to people suffering the economic effects of the pandemic crisis, racial tensions and other inequities.
Today, Scott provided more information about her efforts in an article titled, "384 Ways to Help," published on the web site, "Medium.com." They identified organizations with strong leadership teams and results, with special attention to those operating in communities facing high projected food insecurity, high measures of racial inequity, high local poverty rates, and low access to philanthropic capital.
"The timing of this gift cannot be understated with the dual backdrop of a once in a century pandemic of COVID-19 and racial and social justice issues of 2020," said Dr. Reece. "This historic gift is generationally transformative both in size and generational investment in education and workforce possibilities for current and future traditional and adult students."
The gift is unrestricted, but Dr. Reece said the donor's intent was made clear in the gift notification and recognition of initiatives he has led previously and will be carefully followed.
The historic gift is one of the largest single donor gifts in national community and technical college history, and according to WKCTC Vice President of Advancement and Executive Director of the Paducah Junior College Foundation, Lee Emmons, it surpasses by several million dollars the previous largest gift to the college.
The gift was used to establish a seven-sector framework for use of the grant called, "The WKCTC Guarantee: Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion".
The objective of this sector is to expand education access and affordability for K-12 low-income students entering WKCTC pursuing the high-wage, high demand technical pathways in coordination with Area Technology Centers, Career Technical Centers, and the Innovation Hub, preparing them for successful entry into the workforce upon completion.
The objective of this sector is to support organizations driving change in our region serving under-represented populations and individuals facing barriers to education and careers, with a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion, while encouraging these organizations to inform, assist, and refer potential adult and traditional students to WKCTC, utilizing the WKCTC Guarantee Scholarship where appropriate, and ultimately boosting WKCTC enrollment.
Expanding access to WKCTC in Ballard, Carlisle, Fulton, and Hickman Counties by expanding
capabilities; establishing a laptop loan program; and providing transportation assistance, focusing on utilization of the Skilled Craft and Purchase Area Training Centers in Graves County is the objective of this sector.
The objective of this sector is to prepare unemployed and underemployed individuals for new or better employment through workforce training and participation in business networking and education-focused organizations, promoting lifelong learning, skills enhancement, and expanded business relationships, with a focus on serving under-represented minority populations.
The objective of Sector 5 is to increase overall student retention, success, and completion by expanding academic assistance available, with added intentional outreach to diverse, underrepresented and low-income student populations and streamlining current efforts through development of a dedicated academic support center.
The objective of this sector is to increase student retention, success, and completion by expanding assistance available to meet non-academic and emergency needs that affect academic performance.
The objective of this sector is to recognize the outstanding contributions of WKCTC’s faculty and staff who have contributed significantly to the college’s successes and will assist in continued initiatives to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion; to strengthen and meet the needs of the college as a whole and bolster the regional workforce by providing sustainable support for WKCTC’s healthcare programs.