Southeast Arkansas College announced Monday afternoon that the SEARK Foundation exceeded the fundraising goal of $32,000 from its recently concluded campaign goal by more than $22,000.
The announcement came at the start of a reception held on the SEARK campus to recognize the financial achievement.
“When we began efforts to revitalize the foundation we determined that in order to do what needed to be done we should have at least $100,000 available,” Foundation board chairman F.M. “Mac” Bellingrath III said. “So we knew we had to raise at least $32,000 to add to the $68,000 that existed at the time that we began our work.
“The total amount raised came to $54,410 and $37,830 of that has already been donated,” Bellingrath said. “We now have over $106,000 in investable funds plus another $17,000 in pledge receivables.”
Bellingrath said the fundraising started at the source and branched out from there.
“We knew that it was important to demonstrate to potential donors how committed those close to SEARK are to the institution,” Bellingrath said. “We secured a commitment from our 12 Foundation board members that they would donate at least $300 a year for two years, and the board pledges totaled $8,700. The seven members of the SEARK Board of Trustees also committed to the campaign, which brought in another 15 percent towards our campaign goal.”
Bellingrath said the foundation went out into the community and received financial pledges from 17 companies, 14 community leaders, six retirees and eight SEARK staff members in addition to pledges from SEARK President Steve Hilterbran and Kaleybra Morehead, SEARK’s vice president for college*** affairs.
“Every time I drive down Hazel Street I am reminded of the progress being made here at SEARK with the many new buildings and the growing campus,” Bellingrath said. “But we know that the real proof of the pudding is the students and the graduates. It is their success that will determine the well-being of Southeast Arkansas. Thank you to the people of Pine Bluff for your support and encouragement.”
Bellingrath said the grants committee of the foundation board has been working on setting up student scholarships and that details will be forthcoming.
Hilterbran said the foundation will aid the college in providing a top education to its students.
“It is so nice to see the support that we have had from the foundation board,” Hilterbran said. “I am thankful to this board for re-energizing the foundation. We are trying to help our students be productive and this foundation and its work goes a long way towards expanding that. There are so many companies doing so much for this institution. It helps us to continue to be relevant and to provide this community with a skilled workforce.
“The scholarship committee has set up a few small scholarships that will hopefully grow in time,” Hilterbran said. “We’re building for the future. We are in the business of providing a comprehensive education and job skills and the foundation will help us to do that even better.”
Morehead introduced the members of the Foundation board, including vice chair Marc Oudin; secretary Roy Ferrell; treasurer Roy Boyd; Joy Blankenship; David Brown; Chris Hart; Chuck Morgan; Rebecca Pittillo; Joe Ratliff; Curtis White; and Cary E. Young.
“It’s been an honor to work with individuals who really care about Pine Bluff,” Morehead said of the board members.
Paul Bennett, chair of the SEARK Board of Trustees, thanked the foundation board for its efforts.
Pine Bluff Mayor Debe Hollingsworth said the whole community will benefit from the efforts of the SEARK Foundation.
“The biggest asset of Pine Bluff is the people,” Hollingsworth said. “Our people rise to the occasion when there is a cause. From the city’s perspective we work to attract businesses and we need a skilled workforce so I applaud your work, passion and commitment. It will take every part of that to compete in a global workforce.”
Jefferson County Judge Dutch King added his thanks.
“We’re part of a community that care and we have the leadership to make this happen,” King said. “SEARK and UAPB make good things happen here in Pine Bluff and Jefferson County.”
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*** This article has been updated from its original version because of a correction. Click here to view the correction notice.