For Juston Pate, it didn’t take long to understand the importance of the North Central Kentucky Foundation — now Central Kentucky Community Foundation — to Elizabethtown Community and Technical College, where Pate is the president.
After hearing stories of why the two entities no longer worked together, Pate said it was time to renew the union.
“There never was a good reason why we shouldn’t be working together,” Pate said.
The two organizations announced earlier this month that they were forming a partnership and working together. Efforts of the North Central Kentucky Foundation helped launch the community college locally and jumpstart the state’s community college system.
Pate and CKCF President Davette Swiney met Monday with The News-Enterprise editorial board to discuss the renewed partnership. The meeting came on the heels of last Friday’s announcement that Dr. Robert and Rita Robbins of Elizabethtown were donating $1 million to a proposed University Center, which would bring more four-year programs to the area.
Earlier this month, Pate and Swiney declared before the Hardin County Chamber of Commerce they were partnering again. Pate said both organizations are pillars of the community.
“So working together, both pillars improve,” Pate said. “ … Working together we can do more than we can separately.”
The two leaders said the partnership creates more opportunities such as a joint scholarship process. Currently, students have to apply to both the college and the foundation for scholarships, but Pate said that could change to one application through the partnership.
The Robbinses donated $1 million from their fund with the foundation. Pate and Swiney said the partnership and donation were unrelated.
Swiney said the Robbinses’ gift highlights a role of philanthropy that she has said hasn’t been displayed locally. That role is connecting someone’s generosity with a mission in the community that can truly be transformative.
“The Robbinses’ gift is a great example in this community of how philanthropy can make a difference,” she said.
The money is earmarked for the University Center. Pate has said the idea for the center came from conversations with community members and hearing about the desire for more four-year degree programs.
For the University Center, the college would partner with four-year institutions to bring certain programs to Elizabethtown. Pate said the programs will be determined by community need.
The center would be housed in a renovated student center.
Pate said the Robbinses’ donation speeds up the project’s timeline and allows the college to start the architectural design phase. At this point in the project, Pate said he only has rough estimates of how much the project will cost.
Pate’s said there’s momentum for the center, which could help keep the region’s local talent local.
“People have responded well to this concept,” he said. “(For) Dr. Robbins and Rita to believe in it to that extent – it’s a humbling, exciting, beautiful thing. I really don’t know how to put it into words, the responsibility and the excitement that we feel. To make sure to make that investment pay off, we’ll make sure to do this right.”