The Parkland College Blog

Parkland College Foundation Receives $1.5M Gift

Parkland Foundation Receives Largest Donation In Their History

Having received its largest cash gift ever from a single donor, the Parkland College Foundation recently awarded 12 new spring 2021 scholarships to Ford County residents.

The generous $1.5 million gift, from the estate of C. Paul and Marjorie Davis of Gibson City, came as a surprise in early December to the Foundation, which had no prior connection with the Davises except a passion for education.

C. Paul Davis was a WWII veteran and UIUC graduate who settled in Gibson City to farm, where he married Marjorie. Marjorie Davis was a teacher with a lifelong dedication to the profession. Her accomplishments in the career include teaching English for 24 years, primarily at Stephen Decatur High School and Champaign Central High School; serving as co-teacher leader for high school summer abroad programs; serving as state secretary of the National Council of Teachers; and having a professional membership in Delta Kappa Gamma professional honor society for women educators.

Their gift will continue their legacy by providing scholarships to students from Ford County. Executive Director of the Parkland College Foundation, Tracy Wahlfeldt, expressed her gratitude toward the late couple:

"We are so appreciative of this amazing gift!" Wahlfeldt said. "Mr. and Mrs. Davis' memory will live on through the students whose lives and educational journey are impacted by their scholarship. I wish I had the opportunity to thank them in person."

The first recipients of the Cecil Paul and Marjorie Wilson Davis Scholarship are Katie Johnson, Gowyn Kelly, Allison Heavilin, Ashlyn McPherson, Jadrien Miles, Melissa Walker Salyards, Hannah Hein, Jordan Frederick, Paige Shelton, Lani Crim, Gracie Conover, and Breanna Brokate. The $2,000 awards for the spring 2021 semester will be used for tuition, fees, and/or books.

Please visit for more information about the Parkland College Foundation. Mr. Paul Davis and Mrs. Marjorie Davis' obituaries can be found at the 

Armed with seed money from Parkland College to start his own business, Eliot Graham plans to turn your condo into a cozy haven.

And while Parkland's 2020 Student Entrepreneur of the Year appreciates this new opportunity to grow plants for what will soon be The Wood Violet LLC, it has been his own growth this fall through the school’s CobraVenture Program that he considers far more valuable.

"Winning was truly secondary to all the knowledge gained over the last few months," Graham said about Parkland's second-ever student startup cohort. "The greatest part of CobraVenture was that everyone that came in wanted to see us succeed. This community is focused on ensuring success of small businesses, and that was not only reassuring, but very heartwarming."

Parkland College held its 2020 CobraVenture Pitch Showcase on Nov. 16, which took place virtually for audiences due to the COVID-19 pandemic (judges and competitors were masked and socially distanced in the Student Union.) Having competed with six other Parkland students in his cohort during the event, Graham will soon receive the event’s top prize: $3,000 in seed money and $1,000 in monetary technology to start The Wood Violet.

Through the Wood Violet, Champaign resident Graham plans to bring the power of plants and plant-products to small-space areas, such as apartments and condos. His pitch centered on the reality that the home is transforming in the age of the pandemic, "serving as both residences, office spaces, classrooms, and staycation destinations." His new mobile gardening units will turn these spaces into what he calls "livable, comfortable, and functional sanctuaries."

Graham plans to graduate with his associate's degree in Horticulture and Landscape Design before continuing on to earn a bachelor's in business administration. He plans to use the prize money to establish The Wood Violet as a limited liability company, lease a small plot of land, and have his business up and running by spring 2022.

Judges for the pitch competition were Daniel Marker, President of Hickory Point Bank; Carly McCrory, Executive Director of the Champaign County Economic Development Corporation; Professor Julie Weishar, chair of Parkland's Fine and Applied Arts department; and Marissa Siero, Corporate Engagement and Programs Manager at the University of Illinois Gies College of Business.

The pitch contest highlighted students from the CobraVenture program's student accelerator lab, which launched in January 2020. The semester-long CobraVenture accelerator provides students with an avenue for networking and business mentorship. It features a collaborative workspace, topics taught by local serial entrepreneurs, and one-on-one guidance with business mentors. "Without a doubt, I enjoyed every presenter that came in and lectured," Graham said. "They provided thoughtful and in-depth detail of what would be our next or future steps for our businesses. That time and those talks proved to be invaluable."

While he waits to open his own business, Graham seems happy to promote those of his CobraVenture competitors. "I would encourage you to patronize the runner-up, Pawly's Pet Grooming in Mahomet!" he said. "Polly is a terrific person, and I am happy to have gone through CobraVenture with her. I have no doubt that you and your pet will be happy with her services."

CobraVenture is funded through existing funds from the Parkland Foundation Entrepreneurial Founders Program, Murray Wise Associates PEN Program, and those raised through its annual Entrepreneur of the Year event. Parkland Community Education, the college's noncredit arm, is helping to plan and administer the workshops. The program is operating with oversight from an advisory committee comprised of community leaders and Parkland College faculty and staff, spearheaded by Stephanie Stuart, Vice President for Communications and External Affairs.

Parkland College Foundation Spring 2021 Scholarships Now Open

Scholarship applications due Monday, November 16, at 5 p.m.

The Parkland College Foundation is now accepting scholarship applications for Spring 2021 through the Parkland Scholarship Manager.

The Foundation will host a virtual scholarship workshop on Thursday, November 5, from noon to 1 p.m. via Zoom and streamed to Facebook, for current and prospective students interested in completing an application. The webinar will provide tips for completing the application, with a focus on essay-writing. 

Current students are encouraged to apply for Spring 2021 scholarships, even if they are unsure if they'll be continuing in the spring. Prospective students must apply to Parkland College at before they can apply for Parkland scholarships. 

Current students can visit the Scholarship Manager and use their ParklandOne credentials to login. Once logged in, they will be asked to complete the main Scholarship Application, which will match them with scholarships they are eligible for through the Parkland College Foundation. Students must upload either two letters of recommendation or enter the email address for two recommenders and write an essay. Some scholarships may require additional information or essay work; students will see these additional opportunities once they have submitted the main Scholarship Application.

Once the Scholarship Application is submitted, the Parkland College Foundation committee will appoint the scholarships and notify the winners. Online notification and distribution of awards will be handled through the Scholarship Manager system.

Applications for Spring 2021 scholarships are due Monday, November 16, at 5 p.m.

For need-based scholarships, students must complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at FASFAs must be submitted by November 16, 2020.

For questions about scholarships, please contact the Financial Aid and Veteran Services office at 217/351-2222 or; or the Foundation office at 217/355-3165 or

Parkland College Foundation to Host Virtual "Creating Impact" Celebration

Creating Impact Virtual Celebration Scholarship Fundraiser, Oct. 26 - Oct. 30

The Parkland College Foundation will host its 23rd annual community celebration "Creating Impact" virtually this year in the form of a week-long fundraising campaign, beginning October 26 and ending October 30. Proceeds benefit deserving students at Parkland College.

The Creating Impact Virtual Celebration will highlight the Foundation's donors and community sponsors, raise funds for students, and include videos that offer an opportunity to hear how the Parkland College Foundation creates impact throughout the district and in the lives of Parkland students. 

The Creating Impact Celebration is the only scholarship fundraiser of the year for Parkland College. At last year's event, the Foundation raised over $60,000 for scholarship and student emergency funds. 

To participate in the Creating Impact Virtual Celebration, please visit For more information about how to invest in the Parkland community, call 217/351-2464 or email

Longview Capital Corporation is a presenting sponsor. 

Dr. Ramage Announces CARES Act Program for Parkland Students

$1.64 million to eligible students in emergency aid

Please read President Ramage’s message to the Parkland College community regarding the CARES Act.
Dear Parkland College Community,

You may have heard of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which Congress passed on March 27 to provide comprehensive aid to our nation in the face of the COVID-19 crisis. You may have also wondered how this aid package will support Parkland and Parkland students, and I am pleased to provide an update to you today on how these funds will support our campus community.

As of April 21, the government has established the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), which allows institutions of higher education the ability to provide emergency grants to students for expenses related to the disruption of campus operations due to novel coronavirus.

This fund provides more than $14 billion in emergency funding to higher education. Of those funds, more than $6 billion must go directly to students in the form of emergency grants with no impact to their other financial aid and no requirement to pay back these funds. Institutions must pay HEERF-student share emergency grants directly to students and may not apply the grants toward outstanding institutional charges.

Parkland’s share of this aid package is $3.2 million, with $1.64 million specifically designated for direct payments to eligible students and the remainder helping the institution cover financial losses associated with the crisis. We are pleased to be able to provide some financial relief in times as uncertain as these. For many of us, this crisis has affected multiple facets of our lives. But Parkland is determined to bring our students through this, in every way we can. We will continue to do everything we can to ensure our students have the opportunity to complete or continue their schooling.

Although our goal is to provide opportunities for students of all types, the guidelines surrounding eligibility from the government will limit which students may receive funding under the CARES Act Program for Parkland Students.

Eligible students will receive an email detailing next steps about applying for these CARES Act grants. For more information on eligibility, the CARES Act, and HEERF, please see the Department of Education site or their FAQ.

Stay safe and be well,

Thomas R. Ramage
President, Parkland College