On a roll

By Todd Cohen

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — In the six years since it revived its foundation and launched its first-ever development operation, Forsyth Technical Community College has raised $6.75 million privately plus roughly $6 million in two federal grants.

Now, the foundation plans this fall to kick off a capital campaign, its first ever, to raise $13 million.

Formed in 1974, the foundation in its early years did little more than receive several corporate gifts.

“Before 1998, we did not communicate with any of our alumni, we did not have a vehicle for doing that,” says Shari Covitz, vice president for institutional advancement at the school and executive director of the Forsyth Tech Foundation.

“We did not communicate with businesses or corporations in town, we did not have an annual campaign, did not have a major gifts campaign, did not have planned giving, had never done a capital campaign,” she says.

The school’s president and trustees decided in June 1997 to reactivate the foundation, and the following December hired Covitz, who had worked raising money for Hospice of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County, helped start its foundation, and later had her own consulting firm that provided fundraising counsel to nonprofits in the region and state.

Today, Covitz’ staff includes a director of development and alumni relations, director of grants and two fundraising support staff, plus a director of marketing and a grants manager.

In addition to two gifts of land, one in Kernersville from Eunice and Joe Dudley of Dudley Products Inc. that is home to the school’s Swisher Center, the other in Stokes County from Bryce and Izoria Gordon of Winston-Salem that has not yet been developed, the development effort has generated more than $6.5 million through individual gifts, major gifts, corporate gifts and annual giving.

In 2003, the school also received $750,000 from the U.S. Department of Labor to establish a biotechnology program and, last fall, $5 million from the department to serve as the lead community college, paired with four others through the United States, for a biotech workforce-training initiative.

Each spring, the school runs an annual fund drive, soliciting its 20,000 alumni through a direct-mail effort. The goal for this year’s drive, to kick off in March and run through February 2006, will total $35,000.

The school also runs an annual campaign to raise roughly $75,000 from corporations, and holds an annual golf tournament at Bermuda Run that last October netted $29,000, with Lexington State Bank serving as title sponsor.

A planned giving program has generated roughly $1 million in deferred gifts, most of which will not benefit the school until the donors die.

The capital campaign aims to raise $3 million to establish an endowment for the foundation, and $10 million for an emerging-technologies building in Piedmont Triad Research Park in downtown Winston-Salem that will house the school’s existing and emerging biotech and technology programs.

Forsyth Tech has the largest biotech program of any two-year college in North Carolina, Covitz says, and the first and only nano-technology program at a community college in the state.

It also aims to team up with other local institutions on a digital-design program and to launch its own on a supercomputing program.

The school also has just received a grant of nearly $250,000 over two years from Duke Power in Charlotte to train as mechanical specialists hundreds of workers being relocated to the state through the merger of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco with Brown & Williamson Tobacco that formed Reynolds American.

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