TRAVERSE CITY — Northwestern Michigan College today announced a new fundraising campaign that will be used for facility upgrades, programs, scholarships and more.

The Be What’s Possible campaign has a goal of $35 million. Of that, $28 million has already been raised through a quiet campaign that has been going on for more than three years.

The goal — the most ambitious in the college’s history — was approved by the NMC Board of Trustees at a special meeting held today (Wednesday.)

“We’re thrilled with the progress we’ve made to date,” said Bruce Byl, NMC Foundation board member and campaign co-chair. “It just goes to show how much this community and region supports NMC.”

The support through the quiet campaign was much more than anticipated, Byl said. Ten of the gifts were for more than $1 million.

“We underestimate at times how much value this college creates for people in the region,” Byl said.

Johnny Jones is a student in NMC’s engineering program who plans to transfer to the University of Michigan to pursue a graduate degree in aerospace engineering. Jones’ family includes a fiance and 3-year-old twin boys.

“Going to school here keeps me close to home and it saves me money,” Jones said. “It’s a great school.”

Known as a comprehensive campaign, Be What’s Possible focuses on several priorities rather than on just one objective. It’s a fundraising model that has been used for years in four-year colleges and universities, but NMC is one of the first community colleges in the state and country to launch such a campaign.

The campaign has four focus areas. The Fund for NMC will provide flexible funding to meet the college’s most pressing needs. There is also the Innovative Facilities fund, which focuses on the West Hall Innovation Center currently under construction and the expansion of the Dennos Museum.

The next big NMC project will be renovating the building that houses the Osterlin Library, which is moving to West Hall.

The campaign also establishes a Strong Program arm for NMC to provide innovative educational programs for students.

“There’s a lot going on and we want to stay on the cutting edge,” Byl said.

A final focus is in the area of scholarships, where the number of scholarships as well as the award amounts will grow, said Rebecca Teahen, executive director of the NMC Foundation.

This year, NMC awarded $1.1 million in scholarships that were dispersed to 662 students.

“We continue to award more and more even as enrollment has not grown,” Teahen said.

One area that will grow is the Commitment Scholarship that targets regional ninth-graders who show great promise, have financial need and will be first-generation college students. The program has been around since 1993 and pays for all tuition and fees. It also mentors those high school students so they are college-ready.

“As we build sustained funding we would like to grow the number of students we bring into that program,” Teahen said. “It’s a really powerful program that has great attendance and retention numbers.”

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