Create Opportunity campaign kicks off

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alt Atlantic Cape Community College President Peter Mora, Atlantic Cape Foundation President Diane McKoy, Frances M. Zaberer trustee Jack Zaberer, Ocean City Home Bank Vice President of public relations Jean Jacobson, Frances M. Zaberer trustee Charles Holliday and donor and member of the Atlantic Cape Foundation Board of Directors Dr. Sandra Harmon-Weiss.
Staff Writer

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP – With the announcement of a few very generous gifts, Atlantic Cape Community College commenced the public portion of its first major gifts campaign Sept. 13 at the Mays Landing campus.

“It’s, in our view, a historic event,” College President Dr. Peter Mora said.

This is the first ever major gifts campaign in the college’s 41 year history.

“It’s a new approach for us,” Mora said.

This tactic is the result of a decrease in state funding for higher education in the past several years. Mora said that one-third of the college’s revenues are from public funding, and that amount shrinks each year.

“This is literally the kick-off. The next 18 months is the game,” he said. “We are making a case that this college is worthy of philanthropic support.”

The goal of the campaign is $2.5 million which is intended to increase college-based financial aid and to purchase furnishings and equipment for the new Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics building on the Mays Landing campus.

“Through the quiet phase, we’ve done a little better than we thought,” Mora said.

The quiet phase of the gifts campaign began in September 2009 and in that time Atlantic Cape has raised $1.5 million. The public phase began Tuesday, Sept. 13 with the announcement of several outstanding donations from community members; Ocean City Home Bank, the Zaberer family, the Weiss family, Charles Robinson and an anonymous donor.

Dr. Sandra Harmon Weiss and husband Dr. Richard Weiss of Avalon established a $15,000 endowed scholarship in memory of Sandra’s sister, Marilyn Rhoads Miller.

Charles Robinson of Brigantine, a friend and supporter of Atlantic Cape and the Academy of Culinary Arts, donated $20,000 to establish the Neide Robinson Memorial Scholarship, an endowed scholarship for culinary students in memory of his wife.

Ocean City Home Bank has pledged $25,000 to the campaign for scholarships. The bank will pay $5,000 each year for five years. Jean Jacobson represented OCHB at the announcement.

“We’re very excited at Ocean City Home Bank to be a part of this campaign,” she said.

An anonymous donor has contributed $75,000 to the previously established Baucus and Company Scholarship Fund which creates opportunity for Cape May County students majoring in business administration.

The Frances M. Zaberer Foundation donated its $100,000 endowment to the Atlantic Cape Community College Foundation and entrusted Atlantic Cape to continue its legacy. The Frances M. Zaberer Foundation has provided more than $50,000 in culinary scholarships to Atlantic Cape culinary students since 1986. The funds generated from the endowment will support ACA students through the following scholarship programs: Charles Zaberer Scholarship, Carole Ercolani Zaberer Scholarship, Edwin Zaberer Scholarship for Academic Excellence and the Anthony A. Ercolani Scholarship.

Jack Zaberer and Charles Holliday were present at the announcement.

Mora said that there are two values he sees in the gifts campaign for the college. The first is the dollar amount, which he called “stunning.” And the second is the start of a process that the college can carry forward each year.

“It will become a part of how this community college does business,” Mora said.

Atlantic Cape is ahead of the curve, he said.

In developing the campaign, Mora said representatives went out into Atlantic Cape’s service area asking the question, “What value does Atlantic Cape Community College bring?”

He said respondents saw the college as a gateway.

“The most important thing we do is create opportunity for people,” Mora said.

That response was the basis for the gifts campaign’s title.

The Create Opportunity gifts campaign is a partnership between the college and the Atlantic Cape Foundation, which is directing the undertaking and is working with a cabinet made of community leaders for the public phase of the campaign.

Mac Seeling of Galloway is the honorary chair of the cabinet and is the founder and president of AC Coin and Slot.

“It’s a wonderful thing the school does and I hope they reach their goals,” he said.

Will Morey of Wildwood Crest serves as the Cape May County chair for the cabinet. He is also president and CEO of Morey’s Piers and a member of the Atlantic Cape Foundation Board. He said the work he has done so far has opened his eyes to the role of community colleges.

“Not only does opportunity start here for a number of people,” Morey said, but the current economic climate makes a community college favorable to many people who may not be able to afford a larger college.

Atlantic County chair for the cabinet, Doug Fraser of Marmora, Mays Landing Golf and Country Club vice president, said it’s important to give back to the community because it’s the community that supports local businesses like his. Fraser said he is excited about the direction Atlantic Cape is taking.

“We’re not going to be the best kept secret in education,” he said. “We’re going to be at the forefront of education.”

As of July, the combined endowments of the foundation and the college were $2.2 million.

Last year, the Foundation awarded $270,000 in scholarships and the college contributed $30,000 towards scholarships, said Patricia Gentile, dean of continuing education, resource development and Cape May County campus operations at Atlantic Cape.

“We realize we have to grow the endowment to meet the financial need of the students,” she said.

Each year, about 200 students receive scholarships through the foundation and college.

To learn more about the gifts campaign, visit


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