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Moving Forward – By Stepping Back to Our Beginning


This month, Central Kentucky Community Foundation in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, and Elizabethtown Community and Technical College announced a new strategic partnership. The partnership, intending to strengthen both organizations and ultimately the community, is a throwback to the birth of both organizations.

In the late 1950s, one local man, Jim Collier, rallied a few community champions to help him launch an effort to bring higher education to our region. In 1960, their work resulted in the formation of the North Central Education Foundation (NCEF). The foundation raised local money and worked with state and local officials to draft and eventually pass legislation to form the community college system in Kentucky.

NCEF raised money and purchased 227 acres for Elizabethtown Community College and, when state funding fell short, even provided the money needed to finish initial construction so the college’s first class could begin school in 1964. At the same time, NCEF also raised money for scholarships so students would be able to attend the local college.

For 40 years, NCEF continued to raise private dollars in support of every area of the college – scholarships, faculty/staff development, capital construction projects, etc. The foundation also developed work in other areas of community and economic development.

Over time, the community college system in Kentucky underwent many changes, including a desire for each college to develop its own foundation. At that time, the direction of the foundation and the college differed. The college worked to establish its own fundraising efforts and NCEF transitioned to a community foundation, Central Kentucky Community Foundation (CKCF), in 2011.

As CKCF grew in its presence in the region and new leadership and renewed commitment came to ECTC, the opportunities and value in working more closely together again became apparent.

We are excited to work together with ECTC, and what this partnership means for the future of our region. ECTC is known for their educational excellence, and we are proud to partner with them to strengthen education and bring more opportunities to our area. Together we will enhance higher education and broaden opportunities for the many people in our region who desire to keep growing and learning.

What is the driving reason for CKCF and ECTC to create this partnership? People. The people in our communities. This partnership agreement is a joint agreement developed with our community, citizens, students, businesses and employers in mind. We believe our people will benefit from this partnership. The shared values and mission of CKCF and ECTC are key components that make this partnership natural.

The relationship between CKCF and ECTC is important for the continued growth of this community. In today’s rapidly changing economy, greater cooperation, collaboration and communication among all stakeholders is crucial. When working to create opportunities that solve persistent, complex problems and challenges, it is always better to work together, across organizations, to make that happen. Coming together helps people, organizations and our communities be more resilient. 

As two regional organizations, we both offer valuable resources and connections. ECTC’s broad network of faculty, staff, students and alumni in all the counties we serve offer great connections for CKCF as we continue to grow our footprint. ECTC’s connections with area employers presents a great opportunity, but until now the college has lacked the people and expertise to transition those relationships into gifts. Together, we can raise the expectations and opportunities for philanthropy in our region. For example, both organizations currently offer scholarship programs for students. Streamlining these into one online system will better serve students and enhance the process. 

Already in process is a broad look across the region to assess educational needs and opportunities. In this work we are using as much existing data as possible and identifying needed information. A key component of this work will not just be looking at current needs, but also where we see our community in the decades ahead. More importantly, where do we want to see our community in 30 years? What do we want to foster and grow here?

We have an opportunity to create the community we desire. But we must be intentional to make that happen.

From this assessment and analysis, we will be better equipped to unfold initiatives that we know are both needed and desired for our future community. With input and support from throughout the region, individually as organizations and collectively, we can influence the positive unfolding of our community.

Our people are the foundation upon which our community is built. If we don't provide the opportunities they need and desire, we all suffer. A better life and a better community are interconnected. This partnership agreement is a practical step along the path to help increase the offerings in our community to enhance careers and lives.

Both Central Kentucky Community Foundation and Elizabethtown Community and Technical College work every day to make a positive difference for this region.  We can do a lot more good together than we can separately. 

Davette Swiney is President/CEO of the Central Kentucky Community Foundation.

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