Court Funds Used to Invest in Local Workforce Development

OPELOUSAS ­– A St. Landry Parish judge and attorney are committed to building a strong healthcare workforce in their parish, thanks to a recent investment in South Louisiana Community College’s Opelousas campus. 

Judge James Doherty, with the support of attorney Patrick Morrow, recently awarded more than $80,000 in cy-pres funds to the SLCC Foundation in support of student scholarships in nursing and the potential expansion of the college’s Registered Nursing program at the T.H. Harris campus.

Cy-pres funds are money remaining in a class-action settlement after members of the class and fees have been paid. Judges can designate remaining funds to nonprofit organizations that serve the interest of the suit. The funds stem from a healthcare settlement.

Photo from left:  Rhyn Duplechain, past SLCC Foundation board member; Erika Milton, T. H. Harris campus director; Patrick Morrow, attorney; Judge James Doherty; Natalie Harder, SLCC chancellor; Lana Fontenot, SLCC Associate Vice Chancellor of Institutional Advancement; and Patrick Juneau, attorney/special master.

“This investment supports the college’s mission to increase educational attainment across our region. Scholarships from these funds will support our Opelousas students’ dreams of earning a college degree,” said Lana Fontenot, SLCC’s associate vice chancellor for Institutional Advancement and executive director of the SLCC Foundation. “Thanks to Judge James Doherty and attorney Patrick Morrow for this opportunity.”

The $80,000+ cy-pres investment will be matched one-to-one with $80,000 from the Louisiana Board of Regents, to create a $160,000 scholarship endowment dedicated exclusively to nursing programs at the college’s Opelousas campus.

Scholarship endowments like the cy-pres investment create a lasting legacy while benefiting generations of students. The principal of a scholarship endowment remains invested by the SLCC Foundation, and scholarships are awarded from the allocated income earned on the principal investment. This allows for long-term sustainability of student support, especially amid rising college costs.

Since 2012, the SLCC Foundation has distributed more than $350,000 in annual and endowed student scholarships. Its total endowment, including endowed scholarships, has also more than tripled since 2014.

Once fully funded with the Board of Regents match, the scholarship will be awarded through a competitive process. To qualify for the St. Landry Parish Cy-Pres Nursing Scholarship, students must major in a nursing program at SLCC’s Opelousas campus.

“Our partners in St. Landry Parish such as Opelousas General Hospital, State Rep. Dustin Miller, St. Landry Economic Development, Schumacher Family Foundation, and the City of Opelousas are committed to an RN program in Opelousas,” said Dr. Natalie Harder, SLCC chancellor. “This investment further demonstrates the community's belief that nursing programs are paramount to the economic success of St. Landry parish residents. We look forward to another exciting announcement in August.”

The SLCC Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit corporation established in 2003 for the mission of supporting the activities of South Louisiana Community College. Over the last three years, the SLCC Foundation has raised a $2.1 million match for a $17 million Health & Sciences building for the college’s Lafayette campus, more than doubled its endowment through new scholarships and professorships, increased employee giving from 1.8% to over 50%, and implemented the college’s largest-ever scholarship program. 

SLCC is a comprehensive community college that operates campuses in Abbeville, Crowley, Franklin, Lafayette, New Iberia, Opelousas, St. Martinville, and Ville Platte.