According to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, almost half of all students who attend college drop out before ever getting a degree. Texas State Technical College is making sure its students do not become part of that grim statistic.

The TSTC Foundation has kicked off an innovative fundraising effort challenging supporters and alumni to Make a Texas-Sized Difference by donating to the Texan Success Scholarship.

“The goal is to grow TSTC, get our students in school and on track to complete a program and eventually enter the Texas workforce, explained Beth Wooten, vice president of Institutional Advancement. “This is bigger than just TSTC, this is about filling the skills gap in Texas and providing industry with the skilled workers desperately needed.”

All monies raised in the Make a Texas-Sized Difference Campaign will go to help students get a technical education. Those struggling through family or financial hardships might benefit most from this effort. For a student already on a tight budget, dreams of an education can easily be derailed by unexpected expenses brought on by a car accident, illness, a death in the family or other tragedy.

Last year, TSTC student Damian Salinas of Harlingen, Texas found himself homeless after his father lost his job and subsequently the family apartment. Thanks to a TSTC scholarship established by a generous donor, TSTC was able to help Salinas continue his studies.

“I was able to move into the dorms and stay in classes. Without the help given to me, I would literally have been on the streets,” explained Salinas. “I was about to drop out and instead because of a generous donor I was motivated to keep going. It changed the course of my life.”

Robinson, Texas native Casey Fitzgerald found himself in financial trouble when he had to cut his work hours by half in order to attend the required classes. Fitzgerald says the scholarship money he received from TSTC was a godsend.

“The money went to pay for tools needed for the program and everyday expenses like fuel to get to school,” said Fitzgerald. “I hope to get a good job when I graduate and be able to give back and help a future student who may be struggling like I was.”

TSTC is so committed to making sure students like Salinas and Fitzgerald have every opportunity to complete their studies, that administration leaders have announced every donation will be matched dollar per dollar. It’s an investment TSTC Chancellor and CEO Mike Reeser believes will pay off big for the state of Texas.

“A large number of well-paying jobs go unfilled in Texas because employers cannot find workers with the right blend of technical skills,” said Reeser. “At TSTC we teach those skills needed for these great jobs. We hope more students will be encouraged to consider the benefits of a technical education and the great jobs that result from them.”

To promote the statewide fundraising campaign, The TSTC Foundation has turned to industry leaders, long-time supporters, and alumni for support, especially in the ten communities that are home to TSTC campuses – Abilene, Breckenridge, Brownwood, Fort Bend, Harlingen, North Texas, Red Oak, Sweetwater, Waco and Williamson County.

“Community and business leaders are very involved in soliciting pledges in their prospective communities,” said Wooten. “And, industry, has been very supportive of our efforts. We are confident of getting major commitments and pledges from the very companies that hire many of our well trained graduates.”

To make a donation to the Make a Texas-Sized Difference Campaign, learn more about TSTC or giving opportunities to the college, go online at http://www.tstc.edu/tstcfoundation/annualscholarship/ or call 254-867-3900.