Monetary contributions ranging from $15,000 to $25,000 each for four different Rend Lake College Foundation projects in the last eight years have enabled the Schweinfurth Foundation Trust to fulfill its goals while moving up the Major Gift acknowledgement ladder.

RLC Foundation Chief Executive Officer Pat Mitchell told of donations totalling $77,000 since 1998 from a funding source established by the late Dr. Carl Lincoln Schweinfurth, a Mt. Vernon business leader, world traveler, philanthropist and admirer of the arts.

Following a video presentation during the Rend Lake College Foundation Annual Dinner Thursday evening, Mitchell gave Schweinfurth Foundation representative Kendi Kelley a Gold Seal Award as the 25th donor of at least $50,000 or more.

Kelley, C.E. Brehm Memorial Library District Administrative Librarian, is one of six members on the Schweinfurth Foundation Board which determines worthy causes for US Bank to distribute annual grants. Other board members are Chairman Bill Beck, Donna Bonan, Anson Smith, Chris Stables and Tom Feig, Trust Relationship Manager.

There have now been 21 individuals or businesses/organizations merit Gold Seal Awards for donations of $50,000-$250,000. Four others have attained Platinum Seal Award status with $250,000-plus in contributions to the RLC Foundation.

Projects resulting from Schweinfurth Foundation grant resources have included:

• The Rend Lake College International Travel Program, which has been supported since 1998 by $25,000 to establish student scholarships.

• A $15,000 award in 2000 which helped establish a “Music Around the World”project within the curriculum of the RLC Foundation Children’s Center.

• A $17,000 contribution toward The Hitting Zone Building Project on the Ina campus.

• More assistance for the RLCF Children’s Center, this time in 2005 in the form of $20,000 for a room remodeling venture.

Schweinfurth, Mitchell explained, attended the first reorganizational meeting for the RLC Foundation Board in 1979, served as a Director (and President) during the next 10 years and “continued to support the Rend Lake College Foundation, especially through the arts.”

Mitchell indicated the Schweinfurth Foundation was “designed to benefit the Greater Mt. Vernon area,” with four primary purposes: 1) To promote classical music performances for enjoyment and education; 2) To promote beauty and aesthetics; 3) To develop and carry out plans and programs for the recreation and education of young people, and 4) To promote international education and international understanding.

Thanks to the $25,000 International Travel Award in 1998, “students are able to travel to Costa Rica and Jamaica and experience a unique learning opportunity,” Mitchell explained in the video.

Biological Science Associate Professor Steve Holman also appeared on the video to express his gratitude and appreciation for the success of his Marine Biology class to those exotic locations. Dr. Schweinfurth, he said, “has given those students and myself and this program the ability to do and see things they might not be able to do at any other point in their lives.”

Holman recalled a conversation he had with the director of the Marine Lab, which is run by Hofstra University. Rend Lake College has sent 42 students through the program in the last three years, but only 10 of those in the last class. Holman admitted he was discouraged by a smaller group.

“He looked at me kinda funny and said, ‘You don’t even realize how popular Rend Lake College is at Hofstra University. You are known at Hofstra as being The Little Engine That Could.’”

The director mentioned Notre Dame, Wake Forest, the Florida Institute of Technology and Stanford as schools that had sent students once in the past five years but have been unable to come up with sufficient numbers to return a second time.

“They are overwhelmed at Hofstra that a little school like Rend Lake College has been able to put together the number of students we have each year,“ Holman continued.

“That, to me, is a tribute to these (Schweinfurth Foundation) funds. Many of these are students who would never have been able to do it without these funds. It is the experience of a lifetime.”

Now Holman laughs at the thought of the experience students at places like Notre Dame, Wake Forest and Stanford “are not getting that Rend Lake College students can. That makes me very proud, very grateful,“ because it would not be possible without help of the Schweinfurth Foundation grant.

The $15,000 “Music Around the World” project was used to purchase a computer, hardware and classical music software and “offers a unique opportunity for exposure to classical music during early childhood years,” according to Mitchell. “Retention of these musical experiences for preschool children will enhance their lives for many years to come. Today, the Children’s Center continues to utilize ‘Music Around the World’ in its curriculum with Beethoven, Bach, Mozart and Schubert.“

When the $17,000 donation to the baseball-softball training facility was made in 2003, it was fulfilling one of the Schweinfurth Foundation established purposes “to support recreational programs for the youth of the Mt. Vernon area,” added Mitchell.

The most recent contribution “came at a time when the RLC Foundation Children’s Center needed to be expanded. The Schweinfurth Foundation provided $20,000 for renovation of an adult classroom so the center could accommodate 20 more young children” Mitchell said.

All told, “The Carl Schweinfurth Foundation has supported youth through the Rend Lake College Foundation totalling $77,000,“ concluded Mitchell.

For a high-resolution version of the above photo, click here.

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