April 15, 2020

The Mississippi Community College Foundation has received a grant of $310,000 from the Woodward Hines Education Foundation (WHEF) to help qualifying Mississippi community college students impacted by COVID-19 stay on track towards graduation. 

East Central Community College (ECCC) in Decatur will receive $20,000 of that grant to aid qualifying ECCC students.

“These are difficult times for students who are trying to adjust to the many personal and educational challenges brought on by COVID-19,” said Dr. Ronnie Nettles, Executive Director of the Mississippi Community College Foundation. “We are delighted to partner with the Woodward Hines Education Foundation to help these students.”

“We know that many of Mississippi’s community college students are already vulnerable to unexpected financial hurdles,” said Jim McHale, WHEF President and CEO. “We viewed this as an emergent opportunity to provide immediate financial support to Mississippi’s two-year college students impacted by COVID-19, so they would not be forced to put their education on hold for financial reasons.”

The grant will establish student relief funds at all 15 Mississippi community colleges. Money can be used to help students with the costs associated with in-home internet access, fuel cards, credential fee stipends, to establish campus tablet or computer loan programs, or other costs that may be a barrier to college completion.

ECCC President Dr. Billy Stewart said that his college is working through its Foundation to determine the best way to distribute the funds to its students in need.

“I’ve communicated many times with our students since this pandemic began, and I have consistently told them that we are in unprecedented and ever-changing times,” said Stewart. “Many of our students find themselves in need of financial assistance as we have moved from face-to-face instruction to online instruction and as we have had to close our campus, including our residence halls and dining facility. Online learning has placed a significant burden on many of our students, especially in our rural five-county district where access to the internet can sometimes be difficult. I look forward to the Foundation’s recommendation as to the most effective way to distribute these funds to East Central students in need.

“Such tremendous support from the Woodward Hines Education Foundation will allow us to provide assistance that we otherwise would not been able to do. We are extremely grateful to Jim McHale and the WHEF.”

This is not the first time WHEF has provided financial support to Mississippi’s community colleges. WHEF has awarded $490,000 to Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society to provide membership scholarships to high-achieving but underserved community college students. WHEF has also provided support to Coahoma Community College and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College through a $900,000 grant to Achieving the Dream, to support the development of a peer learning community and build leadership and data capacity among each institution.

About Woodward Hines Education Foundation
The Woodward Hines Education Foundation (WHEF) is committed to helping more Mississippians obtain post-secondary credentials, college certifications, and degrees that lead to meaningful employment. Since its inception, WHEF has worked to increase college access and entry for young people in Mississippi and has expanded that work to support promising practices that lead to college persistence and completion. For more information, contact Communications and Impact Director Courtney Lange at clange@woodwardhines.org

About the Mississippi Community College Foundation
Founded in 1986, the Mississippi Community College Foundation (MCCF) is committed to the advancement of the individual and collective missions of the fifteen Mississippi community and junior colleges and the Mississippi Community College Board.  It strives to enhance the educational opportunities for the citizens of the State of Mississippi.  To accomplish these goals, the MCCF seeks financial support to improve the colleges and better serve their students. For more information about the MCCF, visit https://mccfms.org. To learn more about the Mississippi Community College Board, visit https://www.mccb.edu.