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Thillen Education Foundation Reaches $1M Campaign Goal

Updated: Apr 29, 2023

Dave and Elaine Thillen pose with students and coaches
Greene County High School students celebrate the Thillen Education Foundation (TEF) reaching their $1,000,000 campaign goal. Pictured with the students are Dave and Elaine Thillen, co-founders of TEF, Shannon Daniel, director of operations of TEF, Ellen Dracos Lemming, TEF campaign chair, and John Ellenberg, chief executive officer of GCCA.

More than $100,000 to be Awarded to Greene County High School 2022 Graduates

GREENSBORO, JANUARY 11, 2022: The Thillen Education Foundation has reached its $1 million target for its “Pathway to a Million” capital campaign. “Just four months into the campaign, the outpouring of community support for GCCA is simply remarkable. We are grateful to everyone who has helped secure more financially stable futures for Greene County High School graduates,” says Dave Thillen, founder and CEO of the 501(c)(3) nonprofit. For the program’s first graduating class in May 2022, the foundation will commit more than $100,000 in earned financial assistance for continued education or launching a civilian or military career.

Under the leadership of Campaign Chair Ellen Dracos Lemming, Thillen Education Foundation’s successful $1 million capital campaign marks the beginning of the foundation’s legacy to students. “More than 200 individual donors have supported the foundation’s efforts, as well as a dozen corporate sponsors. We’ve only just begun to see what the lake community can do to end generational poverty. We hope these numbers continue to grow each day,” she said.

Launched September 7, 2021, “Pathway to a Million” established funding goals to ensure the longevity of its commitment to provide earned college scholarship dollars and financial assistance to skilled trade workers and future military students of the Greene College & Career Academy (GCCA) at Greene County High School. To earn these awards, each student will have engaged in weekly coaching sessions and will have met milestone achievements throughout high school. Collectively, students work with 111 volunteer career coaches to participate in 4,000 coaching appointments in a 10-month school year. Since the foundation’s inception, student promotion rates have increased 30 percent, and discipline referrals have decreased by 60 percent.

“Achieving its capital campaign goal allows the Thillen Education Foundation to continue to be a vital and integral driver of student success in our region,” says John Ellenberg, CEO of Greene College & Career Academy. “Our partnership, and our strategic and focused efforts, have helped shape future scholars and well- prepared skilled trade workers and military personnel. Under the leadership of Dave and Elaine Thillen, I am confident this investment will reap even greater rewards for Greene County High School students for years to come.”

Thillen Education Foundation began as a dream to enrich student lives through personal coaching and career guidance. From its grassroots beginnings to its successful $1 Million campaign, the growth has touched many lives. As Greene County Board of Education Chair Michael Lynch shared, “Five years ago, who would have thought you all would be having such an impact on the community and our young students. Thank you so very much for all you have been and are doing.”

More About Thillen Education Foundation

Based in Greensboro, GA, the 501(c)(3) Thillen Education Foundation is a distinguished community-based earned financial assistance program based on personal coaching and committed to honoring the achievements of 450+ students participating in Greene College & Career Academy at Greene County High School, a Title I school. Through corporate sponsorships and funding support, we strive to break the cycle of systemic poverty by financially enabling post-secondary education and skills training for hardworking students. Visit for more information.

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