Students’ Service Recognized by Local Couple’s Generous Gift
Raritan Valley Community College’s Service Learning Program has received an incredible gift from Don and Penny Pray of Westfield, NJ, and Jupiter, FL, that will benefit RVCC students in their efforts to give back to the local community.
The couple’s five-year commitment of $150,000, directed through the RVCC Foundation, will be used to create greater recognition and exposure for the achievements and impact of students participating in programs offered through service learning. In the Prays’ honor, and in recognition for their exceptional generosity, the College’s program will be renamed: “The Pray Family Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement.”
RVCC’s nationally recognized Service Learning Program enables students to use community service as part of their academic coursework and receive credit for the experience.
“The Service Learning Program represents the very best of RVCC,” said Michael J. McDonough, President of Raritan Valley Community College. “Collaboration, community, commitment, leadership—all directed in service to others and demonstrating to our students the importance of giving back. It’s no surprise that this work has inspired the generosity of Don and Penny Pray.”
“We’re honored to support the work being done at RVCC,” said Penny Pray. “The College is doing some exceptional things to impact the journeys of its students, and service learning is just one example. RVCC continues to demonstrate it truly is ‘the best community college in New Jersey.’”
Added Don Pray, “The Service Learning Program aligns perfectly with our philanthropic interests and passions. Helping develop leadership skills in students, and having them experience and appreciate ‘giving back’ and the impact they can have—for the greater good—has never been more important.”
“To have the affirmation and support of Don and Penny Pray means a great deal to us,” said Mike Marion, Executive Director of the RVCC Foundation and Alumni Association. “They are thoughtful, astute, well-researched philanthropists, and their commitment to RVCC is a true mark of distinction. We are honored.”
The Prays’ gift will benefit the College in a number of ways by providing $25,000 annually for scholarships and program support including:
• Establishing the new The Pray Family Service Learning and Civic Engagement Scholarship, awarded to two, RVCC-committed high school seniors exhibiting exceptional service to the community, at $2,000 per person, given in conjunction with the Paul Robeson Youth Achievement Awards;
• Creating new student awards at $500 each per semester (total $4,000), to recognize excellence in the academic program areas of education, nursing, health science, and environmental science;
• Increasing funding for the four current student service awards to $1,000 each;
• Providing 20 stipends to expand training and encourage participation for student poll workers at elections; and
• Supporting professional development and dissemination of best practices at national conferences associated with the work of The Pray Family Center for Service Learning and Civic Engagement at RVCC.
Service learning and civic engagement at RVCC involves more than 1,000 students serving 250 community organizations in Somerset and Hunterdon counties through various community engagement experiences. By providing their time, talent and energy, students are helping the organizations meet their goals and donating the economic equivalent of $1,000,000 via community service hours to local organizations.
From non-profits to schools to government agencies, RVCC students serve many different kinds of organizations that include K-12 schools, afterschool programs, nursing homes, adult day care centers, probation departments, environmental centers, farms, and food pantries, as well as homeless, domestic violence, and animal shelters. Students learn about important community issues while helping diverse groups that include the underserved, immigrants, incarcerated, disabled, homeless, elderly, at-risk children, youth, families, and animals.
“The generosity of the Pray family will have a transformative impact on the work we are doing,” added Lori Moog, Director of Service Learning and Community Outreach. “In addition to stimulating new collaborations both inside and outside of RVCC, it also signals to our students that their service is seen, valued, and celebrated.”
RVCC is located at 118 Lamington Road in Branchburg, NJ. For further information, visit www.raritanval.edu.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 14, 2023
Media contact: Donna Stolzer, 908-526-1200, ext. 8383