Partnerships between local businesses and West Virginia Wesleyan College could help Upshur County students afford to further their education without traveling far from home.
In just its second year, West Virginia Wesleyan College's 2012 Area Business Campaign has already raised $37,000, officials said.
"It's a real honor and privilege to be able to work as a team with West Virginia Wesleyan College to help our youth as they try to advance in their education and their careers," said campaign chair Terry Cronin of Comfortech Inc. "Hopefully we'll work together, and it will be a successful campaign."
The money raised through the campaign supports scholarships for Upshur County students enrolled at West Virginia Wesleyan College.
"This campaign was clearly geared to help local students afford a quality, private education," said Bob Skinner, vice president for advancement at West Virginia Wesleyan College.
The college's campaign has set a goal to raise $50,000 by Dec. 31 through contributions and gifts from Upshur County businesses. Businesses contributing to the campaign become partners with West Virginia Wesleyan College for the year.
Skinner said the college tries to get a good representation of businesses in Buckhannon and across Upshur County to participate. Three campaign chairs from local businesses attended a conference Monday at the Virginia Thomas Law Center for the Performing Arts.
"We're delighted that all of them have made a commitment to this year's campaign," Skinner said about Cronin and the other campaign chairs for the year, Kathleen Loughney of The 88 Restaurant and Chad McIntyre of Walmart.
Contributions and gifts this year have come from businesses including Tygart Valley Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, Papa John's Pizza, Sunset Graphics, Country Roads Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation, Wendy's, Ralph's Furniture, Jenkins Ford Mercury, and Sam's Pizza.
"We're glad to support this effort on behalf of Walmart," McIntyre said, adding that Walmart also is in its second year with the campaign. "We're just thankful to be a part of it and help out local area students."
Of the 160 Upshur County students enrolled at the college, 40 percent are first-generation college students," Skinner said.
"Getting started in our business about nine years ago, one of the missions that we had was to promote more continuity between business and community, and to offer our place as a format for that," Loughney said. "I'm proud to be able to sponsor local students in their education. I think it just follows right in track with the mission that we had from the beginning."
Last year, the campaign proved to be successful by raising $98,000, squashing a goal of $35,000.
"We hope we have the same kind of success this year. By elevating the goal, maybe we'll do a little more than $98,000," Skinner said. "We're delighted to announce that as of this morning, we have $37,000 in gifts and pledges for this year's campaign, and we have a number of people to visit and see during the coming months."
Part of the goal of the campaign is to make West Virginia Wesleyan College more affordable to local students. According to a press release from the college, more than $2.25 million is invested by the college in institutional scholarship aid to Upshur County students. Wesleyan president Dr. Pamela Balch said the affordability of the college is a misconception among students, whether they live locally or farther away.
"We are definitely affordable, and we worked very hard at that," Balch said. "The reason we are is because of our generous scholarship program, and obviously, our local businesses are an important and integral part of that. So, we're really grateful to all of you who make a commitment and really work with us on that."
Skinner said that every local student got some form of financial aid through last year's campaign. The college will continue to partner with other businesses that want to help, expanding upon this year's 11 partners.