Damato Bequest Provides Nearly $70,000 in Grants to Help MCC Students Stay in School

MANCHESTER, Conn. (March 8, 2018) – Thanks to a generous bequest from the estate of Raymond F. “Sonny” Damato, Manchester Community College has been able to award retention scholarships to students who might otherwise have had to suspend their education for lack of funds.

The Spring 2018 semester marks the fourth time that the college has awarded the grants, totaling nearly $70,000 to date. Of the students awarded a retention grant, more than 60 percent were able to earn their degrees and/or return for the following term.

MCC’s retention grant program has become a best practice in Connecticut for helping successful students – so much so that Interim Dean of Institutional Advancement Susan Alston and Enrollment Services Coordinator Samantha Plourd were invited to present at the College Board’s New England Regional Forum in Boston on Thursday, March 1.  The forum is an annual gathering of professionals from across K–12 and higher education, as well as college access professions. It provides an opportunity for discussion on important education topics, as well as longstanding concerns related to academic readiness, educational opportunity and student success.

As Alston and Plourd explained to conference attendees, the retention grant program is a new need-based scholarship that offers funding for eligible continuing students to cover a semester’s initial tuition and fee bill. The grant makes the first payment of an installment agreement to secure the student’s position in classes. The student agrees also to attend a financial literacy workshop, which is designed to help him or her plan and manage upcoming budget milestones. To be eligible, a student must have at least a 2.5 grade point average.

“Of the recipients of retention grants to date, nearly 60 percent have gone beyond to earn a 3.0 or higher,” Plourd told conference attendees.

Alston added, “We recognize that many of our students face a broad range of personal and financial challenges at the same time they are pursuing their education, and that ‘life happens.’ We don’t want students to stop going to college just because they can’t continue to pay tuition for one semester, so we greatly appreciate the bequest from the Damato Estate.”

The Damato bequest is $7.6 million. In addition to the retention grants, funding has been used to support scholarships for graduating high-school students who are pursuing a degree or certificate at MCC, course lab and related fees, developmental courses and supplemental flexible funding as needed, as well as campus upgrades and program support.

The foundation also has a number of additional scholarship funds and each semester gives hundreds of deserving students the opportunity to achieve their academic dreams, having awarded more than $200,000 in the last year. For information, visit the website.

About MCC Foundation – Manchester Community College Foundation, Inc. is a nonprofit 501(c) 3 Connecticut corporation. It is governed by a volunteer board of directors, composed of business and community leaders who serve as advocates for the college and secure support for college priorities. Since 1968, MCC Foundation has supported the college’s strategic initiatives via funding for student scholarships, college programs, and equipment. MCC Foundation helps build a network of community support and promotes better public understanding of the college as a regional resource.