The Tarrant County College Foundation is the middle of a reset.
The TCC District board of trustees outsourced management of the nonprofit, founded in 2001 to raise money to support TCC students, to Dini Spheris, a third-party firm from Houston. A new strategy is being assembled to set a new direction for the entity. And the foundation has an improved relationship with the chancellor’s office.
This is all a far cry from the foundation’s state earlier this year when a rift emerged between the nonprofit and ex-Chancellor Eugene Giovannini, who resigned not long after trustees started the process to fire him.
Now, as Elva LeBlanc transitions from interim leader to permanent chancellor, the TCC Foundation is re-establishing relationships in and outside the college to resume fundraising, according to officials.
“We’ve been doing a lot of foundation-type of work to build on. That has been the critical piece,” LeBlanc said during an October meeting.
Dini Spheris has been in charge of the foundation since August. Trustees approved a five-month contract with the Houston firm for up to $250,000. A comprehensive review of the TCC Foundation is expected in November, according to college officials.
Victor Brooks, a Dini Spheris consultant, is the interim executive director of the TCC Foundation. He described his work for the past three months as looking for a path forward for the foundation to work effectively.
“The crux of our mission is to provide and invest in the success of our students through our philanthropy and community partnerships. That’s really the place we’re starting from,” Brooks said.
The TCC Foundation’s top priority going forward is to solicit gifts, Brooks said. To get there, Dini Spheris has worked with the TCC District and foundation board to figure out a plan to best fundraise.
The foundation hasn’t had a team of fundraisers for several months, Brooks said. Most of the work has been administrative, and the nonprofit has not been able to build relationships and cultivate donors.
Five positions are open at the foundation. They are:
- Executive director, who will be the lead fundraiser and strategy expert
- Development director and assistant development director, who will be the main fundraisers
- Development services director, who will be in charge of the foundation’s business
- Donor engagement director, who will be develop and maintain philanthropic relationships
The key position is executive director, LeBlanc said. Once TCC hires that person, the college will begin looking for the other four positions. Brooks expects all of the positions to be filled within the next six months.
Once those positions are filled, Brooks said the TCC Foundation will be able to be a more active part of the community. He expects to put the foundation and the college back on people’s minds so they can get the resources to support students.
“Once we get everyone flowing in the right direction that will help streamline our operations and make sure we can implement all the goals and vision we would like to see at the foundation,” the interim executive director said.
The TCC Foundation looked to similar nonprofits to determine how much money the TCC Foundation needs to raise, as well as the staff and operating budget needed to accomplish that. The interim executive director looked at five colleges across the nation.
One pattern stood out.
“What you will see is a direct correlation between the operating budgets of these organizations and the amount of money they were able to raise annually,” Brooks said.
Trustee Bill Greenhill questioned whether the formal relationship between the college district and foundation would change. That relationship was outlined in a memo of understanding. The last one was established without the board’s knowledge, Greenhill said.
“It didn’t work out so well,” he said.
Brooks stressed the foundation’s fundraising work hinges on a strong relationship with the chancellor’s office. He has worked closely with her in recent months and has started to rebuild the trust between the foundation and college.
Brooks told Greenhill to expect another contract between the entities after the foundation is fully staffed. That agreement, though, will keep much of what has worked, LeBlanc said. That includes the college funding staffing and facilities so that all of the foundation’s proceeds can help students, Brooks said.
Board Secretary Jeannie Deakyne was optimistic about the future of the TCC Foundation.
“I love seeing well-integrated plans between the university and the education foundation,” she said. “I would love to hear at some point how that has advanced to develop the relationship between those two groups.”
Disclosure: Bill Greenhill has been a financial supporter of the Fort Worth Report. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.
Jacob Sanchez is an enterprise journalist for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at email@example.com or via Twitter.