News Release

For Immediate Release

Contact: Brianna Williamson, Recruiter/Alumni & Development Specialist
Phone: 608.822.2483
Mail: 1800 Bronson Blvd., Fennimore, WI 53809
Date of Release: November 9, 2022

Southwest Tech Foundation recognizes $10,000+ donors

Fennimore -

On Thursday, Oct. 20, the Southwest Tech Foundation hosted a Donor Appreciation Event on campus. The event was held to celebrate donor organizations and individuals who have given $10,000 or more and have been added to the foundation’s donor wall or who have given a significant amount of gifts and have moved up to the next level on the wall for the 2021-22 fiscal year.

Several individuals and organizations were added to the foundation’s donor wall for their generosity in providing student scholarships, funding grants that increase student support funds, providing equipment and software to be used in the classroom, and more. The individuals and organizations include Boardman and Clark, Holly and Matt Clendenen, Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin, ERS, Inc, Lactalis American Group, Majestic View Dairy LLC, David and Joan Martin, The Richland Hospital Foundation, The Rossard Family, Schreiber Foods, and Toby Washburn, all at the $10,000-plus level. Walter F. and Eileen M. Hermsen at the $25,000-plus level, Memorial Hospital of Lafayette County, Municipal Electric Utilities of Wisconsin (MEUW), and Walmart Stores, Inc. at the $50,000-plus level.

There were also several donors that moved up to a level including the Karen M. Campbell Family, Dillman, A Division of Astec, Inc., Mound City Bank, Amcor, Community First Bank, Hartung Brothers, Inc., Tim and Joan Senn, Compeer Financial, Doug and Karen Knox, Daryl E. Tresner, 3M, Huff Family Foundation, Sloan Implement and Patrick Thiele. “We are truly humbled by the support that we’ve received this past year and beyond,” said Kim Schmelz, foundation director. “The gifts given have helped change the lives of our students at Southwest Tech.”

Patrick Thiele receiving his Philanthropy award surrounded by his scholarship recipients, along with Theresa Braudt, foundation board chair (center), Jason Wood (center), Southwest Tech president; and Holly Clendenen, chief student services officer (far left).

In addition to the donor wall recognitions, the 2022 Southwest Tech Foundation Philanthropy Award was presented to Patrick Thiele. The Philanthropy Award, previously called the Individual Contributor of the Year, Business Contributor of the Year, and Board Member of the Year awards, recognizes generous contributions supporting activities beneficial to Southwest Tech, its students, faculty, and staff. Since 1995, 36 individuals and businesses have received this award. In 2017 Thiele donated to the Southwest Tech Foundation and started the James and Grace Thiele Scholarship, in honor of his parents, for Boscobel High School graduates attending Southwest Tech. The scholarship has since expanded to include a second scholarship for Wauzeka-Steuben High School graduates who attend Southwest Tech. Both scholarship award amounts are based on earned credits and are dispersed the semester following the credits earned. In total, a student from Boscobel or Wauzeka-Steuben can earn up to $3,000 in scholarships.

In 2021, Thiele asked if there were more students he could help and agreed to fund a cohort of the Charge Forward Scholars program. The Charge Forward Scholars program is a comprehensive holistic student support program and learning community. The program helps at-risk students retain and graduate through engagement with the college, development of leadership skills, and the accomplishment of academic goals. The intent of the Charge Forward Scholars program is to help students establish strong ties with Southwest Tech that will keep them engaged in learning throughout their academic careers. This year’s cohort, supported by Thiele, serves students with disabilities and students who speak English as a second language. Students in this program can earn up to $3,000 in scholarships for credits earned in addition to a scholarship they receive for joining the program and a scholarship to cover their technology fee. To date, because of Thiele’s generous gifts for these scholarship programs, 152 students have received a Thiele S.T.E.P. Scholarship or a Charge Forward STEP Scholarship. In addition to the scholarships, he has also generously donated to the foundation’s Fuel a Charger fund for student gas cards, the Charger Dream Grant fund for emergency grants for students, and the SOS Fund that was started during COVID to help students navigate emergencies through the pandemic. In total, Thiele has donated more than $1.2 million, the most the Southwest Tech Foundation has ever received from one donor.

The foundation received gifts totaling $1.5 million coming from 963 individual donors made up of 6,442 gifts. Schmelz noted in her comments to the donors in attendance that fiscal year 2021-22 was another record-breaking year for donations during these very interesting times. Student support funds that received generous contributions included the Charger Dream Fund, used for students facing a financial emergency that may cause them to drop out or stop attending class, received $36,000. More than $20,000 was raised for the Fuel a Charge Fund, providing 558 gas cards.

The foundation had a record-breaking 2021-22 year with scholarships, awarding $374,529 to 603 students ranging, from $100 to $3,000 each. “We say it time and time again, it’s so much easier to ask others to support our students when we can say how much they are supported by our faculty and staff,” said Schmelz. “For the 6th year in a row, over 90-percent of our faculty and staff have given back to the foundation – and this year we hit a new high with 95-percent of our faculty and staff giving a gift.”

The Southwest Tech Foundation was incorporated in 1980 to identify, solicit, and manage alternative funding sources to support the commitment to excellence of Southwest Wisconsin Technical College. The foundation is dedicated to providing financial support for Southwest Tech’s programs, students, and staff. For more information on how to support scholarships or other support funds, contact the Southwest Tech Foundation at 608.822.2379.

Contact: Kim Schmelz
Director of Foundation | 608.822.2379 |

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