GREENSBORO, GA — The Thillen Education Foundation (TEF) is delighted to express its sincere gratitude to the community for the overwhelming support on Giving Tuesday. The foundation successfully raised $300,000, surpassing its goal of $140,000 to replenish the financial assistance awarded to the latest graduated class of students in the career coaching program at Greene College & Career Academy inside Greene County High School.
This achievement sets the stage for future classes to benefit greatly from increased financial assistance. TEF financial assistance is unique in four ways – 1) all students in the career coaching program participate - over 600 during the first six years, 2) students earn “Dave Dollars” during their 4 years of high school, 3) students do not have to go to college – many do and some do not, 4) the timing allows “Dave Dollars” to be cashed into real dollars for up to two years after graduation or six years if in military service.
An additional opportunity for students to be awarded financial assistance is by applying for “Next Step Funds” during the senior year resulting in scholarships or career start packages. In the last graduated class in May, 2023, 24 students were awarded $80,000 on top of the overall class of 86 students earning almost $60,000 in “Dave Dollars. All financial assistance can be used for furthering education or for professional supplies needed to begin a career.
On Giving Tuesday, a number of interesting stories happened but the most unusual involved one of our freshman career coaches who had a 529 fund (college fund) set up for her granddaughter who decided she wasn't going to use the fund. So, our career coach decided to close the account and donate the proceeds (over $25,000) to help our students.
The overall plan for Giving Tuesday was to obtain pledges of $70,000 so matching funds could be offered to raise the second half of the $140,000 goal. By the time Giving Tuesday arrived, pledges to be matched reached $100,000. At the end of Tuesday night, 94 supporters combined pledges and donations totaling $300,000, more than doubling the goal. Total donations for the 3 years of the foundation's existence is now $1.75M, causing Thillen to comment “continued growth through donations and grants may position us over time to change the paradigm toward my dream of every graduate of the career coaching program having their expenses covered for up to 2 years of continued education or career start.”
Career Coaches are the heartbeat of the career coaching program as they commit to 4 years of coaching 3 or 4 students. In an attempt to position the magnitude of the opportunity with the career coaches, Thillen stated “Making lasting change for the better in Greene County, Georgia is a lofty goal but [...] involving 600 students so far (adding 100 each year) and 180 career coaches so far (adding 30 each year) and $1.75M so far (adding $.25M each year) [...] real progress can be made. It will take time but I believe there is no better way to spend that time than changing the trajectory of hundreds of young lives in our community.”
On behalf of the students in the Career Coaching Program, the volunteer career coaches, and all active supporters, Thillen Education Foundation extends an immense heartfelt thank you to the community.
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