Labette Community College has been awarded a $1 million Challenge Grant from the prestigious Kresge Foundation for a new Health Science Building, the centerpiece of LCC’s Preparing a Pathway to the Future capital campaign. The grant represents one of the largest grants received in the 86-year history of the College. LCC will have 18 months to raise the challenge amount of $9.4 million dollars, and if the goal is met, the Kresge Foundation will award LCC with $1 million to fully fund the campaign goal of $10.4 million. The LCC Foundation has already secured pledges and donations in the amount of nearly $5M for the capital campaign through private donations, pledges, gifts, and tax credits.

“To be awarded the Kresge Challenge grant is a true honor. This prestigious award will help to fulfill the vision of the College and Foundation by building a new health science building. This building will mean growth and prosperity for future generations of top-quality healthcare professionals.” said LCC President, Dr. George Knox. “The addition of the three new programs, new technology, and lab space will only enhance the already outstanding programs we have to better serve our students.”

The capital campaign has three goals: building a state-of-the-art health science building, funding an endowment for scholarships and completing deferred maintenance projects. The scholarships will help create opportunities for the underserved population of the area. The new health science building is slated to begin construction in March of 2011. The building will be built with Gold LEED certification standards. The Foundation is working closely with the LCC Green Committee to insure environmental sustainability.

The building will house the three current allied health programs; Nursing, Respiratory Care and Radiography in addition to the three new Title III grant programs Physical Therapist Assistant, Occupational Therapist Assistant, and possibly Surgical Technician. The building will be specifically designed for the rapid changes in healthcare education with room to expand and adapt to future needs of students. The programs will utilize technology that will mirror what is to be used in hospital and clinical settings in the real world. Current instructional space on LCC’s main campus supports high-demand nursing, radiology, and respiratory care courses, all enrolled to capacity. With additional demand associated with dual-entry enrolment in nursing programs, LCC’s dedicated Allied Health instructional labs are scheduled during all daytime and evening instructional hours.  The current classrooms and lab space are filled and does not include space for specialized equipment and resources the ever-advancing fields of health-care require.

Currently LCC’s allied health programs carry some of the highest pass rates upon graduation in the state. With the realization of the shortage of qualified healthcare professionals, the continuation of such degrees as the three current and the addition of the three new degrees is important for a rural community. These programs allow students to graduate, become registered, and go directly into the workforce in about two years. LCC is situated in an area federally designated as both a Medically Underserved Area and a Health Professional Shortage Area, so the continuation of such programs in our area is vital. In order to continue serving our students with educational excellence it is imperative that we not only improve our enrollment by increasing capacity for our Allied Health programs, but provide the appropriate space and laboratory infrastructure to allow for expansion of students and laboratory resources.

“The Kresge Foundation is pleased to award a challenge grant in support of Labette Community College’s first-ever capital campaign.  Labette is an engine of opportunity in southeastern Kansas, and we are pleased to partner on the construction of a new Health Sciences facility to increase access to training in the high-growth field of allied health.” said Bill Moses, Kresge Education Program Director. 

This is the second year that community colleges have been allowed to submit applications for Kresge challenge grants and LCC was honored to be one of few to be recipients nationwide.  The Kresge Foundation is one of the nation’s premier private foundations and a large supporter of higher education. These grants are highly competitive and grant recipients are selected very carefully. The grants help strengthen institutions through challenge grants for capital projects. The foundation’s work is focused in six fields of interest: health, the environment, arts and culture, education, human services and community development. Part of the challenge from the Kresge Foundation is how our organization exemplifies the Kresge values in the area of creating opportunity, community impact, institutional transformation, environmental conservation, innovation, collaboration, underserved geography, and diversity. This challenge grant is a way to examine an institution’s work and impact on its community.

Moses added, “The College aligned well with Kresge’s grantmaking values, including a commitment to environmental sustainability, access for low-income people, and significant community impact, and we hope this challenge grant will spur additional community support for this important effort.”

For more information about LCC’s Preparing a Pathway for the Future capital campaign, contact President, Dr. George Knox at 620-820-1223.