Over the past three decades, the Grayson College Foundation has worked to raise more than $16 million toward higher learning and secondary education for generations of students across Texoma. From endowments for student scholarships and aid to other funding in support of the college itself, GCF has helped thousands of students reach the goal of obtaining a college education.

For the current 2020-2021 academic year, the foundation has provided 346 students, including both recent high school graduates and non-traditional students, with scholarships valued at more than $347,000. An additional $13,000 has been awarded this year to students transferring to four-year colleges.

“The Grayson College Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) organization that’s sole purpose is to raise philanthropic funds for Grayson College,” Foundation Executive Director Randy Truxal said. “Our whole existence and purpose is to serve the school.”

Grayson College was founded in the mid-1960s, but it wasn’t until years later that the foundation decades. While an early form of the foundation existed much earlier, the current foundation was formed in 1992 amid funding cuts from outside sources.

“The reason it was brought back to life was (because) educational institutions across the nation were finding out that state and federal funding was drying up,” Truxal said, noting that this funding situation has not improved. “The funding from state and federal sources continues to dissipate, so the need for students to attend school with some assistance is greater than it was in 1992. Sometimes a $500 scholarship is all that is needed for a student to stay in school.”

While the scholarships awarded by the college today are at least $500, the first scholarships were far smaller, by comparison, Truxal said.

“In 1992, the first four scholarships we awarded were for $50 a piece,” he said. “Now we give away about 325 scholarships that are close to $1,000 a piece.”

The foundation receives the majority of its funding from friends, college alumni and various grants. For this fiscal year, the foundation has raised $1.3 million.

Currently, the foundation maintains 258 fully-funded endowments dedicated to student scholarships, with an additional 41 that are working toward being fully-funded. Beyond scholarships, six named chairs have been created to assist college faculty and 13 endowments assist both students and faculty.

Outside of scholarships, Truxal said this year the foundation has seen high demand for emergency assistance amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Many students have had difficulty over the last few months, as they have lost jobs or temporarily been out of work due to widespread closures.

“That is the fund that has the greatest need right now, outside of scholarships and endowed scholarships,” Truxal said.

Among the programs aimed at faculty, Truxal said the foundation has supported efforts toward continued education for faculty. As an example, some educators in the skilled nursing program have used foundation support to further their own education with master’s degrees or more.