Changing Lives Through the ESCC Foundation
Student Support Helps Carlens Jean Achieve Success
How can someone with limited English skills land in a pre-med program at VCU? Eastern Shore Community College’s Education Foundation made it possible for one man, Carlens Jean.
Wanting a fresh start after one of Haiti’s devastating earthquakes, Carlens followed his mother to the Eastern Shore when she took a job at Perdue. While working there part-time, Carlens enrolled in ESCC’s English as a Second Language class.
After completing his GED, he began taking college credit classes in Fall 2019 and graduated with his Associate of Art and Sciences degree in May 2021. ESCC Foundation helped with scholarships along the way.
ESCC’s Professor of Biology, Dr. Alex Foxworthy, fueled Carlens’ passion for science by connecting him with a paid internship at UVA’s Coastal Research Center in Oyster. There, Carlens conducted research in seagrass meadows and is now on the path to fulfill his dream of being a physician.
“I am grateful that ESCC helped me get to where I am today,” Carlens said.
As the fundraising arm of the college, Eastern Shore Community College Foundation is a dynamic, growing foundation governed by an active board of civic-minded local citizens. Thanks to their leadership and that of ESCC President Jim Shaeffer and Executive Director Patty Kellam, ESCC Foundation has seen its number of donors grow and the number of scholarships increase.
In 2019-2020, ESCC Foundation awarded 109 scholarships totaling $84,876. Just one year later, in 2020-21, at the height of the pandemic, ESCC Foundation awarded 319 scholarships totaling $350,963. That’s a 292% increase in the number of students served and a 414% increase in scholarship dollars disbursed.
ESCC Foundation also helps students stay enrolled. President Shaeffer explains, “Many of our students have barriers that prevent them from completing. Transportation, housing, food, and childcare are critical needs for students to stay enrolled.”
ESCC Foundation helps fund Star Transit routes to the college and programs like Healthy Snacks, where students can take a grab and go bag with fresh fruit, trail mix, and peanut butter crackers on their way to class. The idea started in 2019 when two board members were shocked to discover there was no cafeteria on campus. The program now includes a food pantry on campus in partnership with ESVA’s Food Bank.
When COVID forced classes to remote delivery, ESCC Foundation provided 120 loaner laptops that students still check out to complete coursework. Grants from PNC Foundation fund mobile hot spots for those without reliable internet. Shaeffer stated, “For our students, this is the difference between a high-quality education and dropping out.”
Funding comes from many sources. For example, Kellam explained, “We were thrilled to have so many sponsors step forward to support our 50th Anniversary Homecoming in October and the ribbon cutting of ESCC’s new $22 million academic building.”
Kellam added, “It’s a great reflection on how our community supports the college.”
Shaeffer said, “Folks on the Shore are embracing our YES! culture which stands for YOUR Eastern Shore. The college belongs to all of us on the Shore.”
The next celebration of ESCC’s 50th Anniversary, is ESCC Foundation’s Annual Oyster Roast on Friday, January 28, 5:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
The fundraiser will be held outdoors under a tent and in the Workforce Great Hall with local oysters and clams roasted onsite, plus chowder, BBQ and sides. The Jae Sinnett Jazz Trio will perform, and local craft beer, wine, and soft drinks are included.
“Come out for a night of great music, local delicacies, and help us change lives on the Shore,” Kellam says. Tickets are $60 and available online or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. All proceeds support ESCC Foundation scholarships and services for students.