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Furman alumni donate $6.1 million to music department

Gordon Herring and Sarah Herring, Furman classes of 1965 and 1966, respectively, have pledged a gift of $6.1 million to the Furman Department of Music.

The donation established the Herring Music Chair Endowment and the Herring Music Fellowship Fund. The couple’s gift continues a decades-long tradition of generosity to the department in terms of time, guidance and financial support. “We hope our gift will attract exceptional students who can be magnets to draw other talented musicians to Furman’s music programs,” Sarah Herring said. Both Sarah, a German major, and Gordon, a history major, were members of the Furman Singers when they were students, an experience that fostered a special bond with Furman’s music department. “Furman is exceptional for providing students with a rigorous liberal arts education,” Gordon Herring said. “We believe the other liberal arts are enhanced by music. Because we weren’t music majors, our experience with Furman Singers served to complete our liberal arts education.” Gordon was a telecommunications executive who helped launch The Weather Channel in 1982, while Sarah’s career was in senior management for telephone company operations.
The Herrings’ legacy of generosity to Furman includes a $1.8 million gift that led to the construction of the Herring Center for Lifelong Learning, and a $1.25 million donation that served as the lead investment for the Nan Trammell Herring Music Pavilion. Since the mid-1990s, the Herrings have provided Partner Scholarships, which support multiple music students each year. Gordon, an emeritus trustee, believes music speaks to the soul of the individual and thereby enriches the soul of the university, especially in these challenging times. Bingham Vick Jr., professor of music emeritus and director of the Furman Singers from 1970 to 2010, emphasizes the importance of the Herrings’ gift to the university in attracting gifted music students. “In recent years, rising costs of Furman, increased competition for musical talent with other quality collegiate music programs, and knowing the value and the importance of the cultural experience that a strong music department could offer to students and to the community, the Herrings have taken a bold and important step and investment in the Furman musical program,” Vick said. “I can attest to the importance and benefit Furman’s strong music program has had on the lives thousands of students. The Herring Fellowships now lead the way toward an even brighter future for the enrichment of the Furman experience.”

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Make a gift to the arts on May 6 and multiply your generosity

On May 6, you can make a donation to one or more nonprofit arts groups in the Lowcountry or the Midlands, and your gift will be matched or multiplied. Arts nonprofits in the Midlands and the Lowcountry are taking part in Give Local America, a 24-hour online giving day and national campaign to support local philanthropy to nonprofits. In the Midlands, the effort is called Midlands Gives - Magnify the Midlands and is organized by the Central Carolina Community Foundation. The Lowcountry campaign is Lift the Lowcountry, organized by the Coastal Community Foundation. Each community foundation has secured sponsors who will match donations from the public. As part of Lift the Lowcountry, the Charleston Regional Arts Alliance is partnering with the Coastal Community Foundation to facilitate Lowcountry Arts Day, a campaign to raise awareness and funds for the 30 nonprofit performing, visual, literary and arts education organizations that make up the Alliance's tri-county network (Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties). The impetus for Lowcountry Arts Day was an anonymous donor who pledged $110,000 in matching funds just for arts organizations, according to Maggie Hendricks, executive director of the Alliance. “It’s really exciting to see something like this happen in our community,” says Hendricks. “This is a key opportunity for the community to learn more about the work of our member organizations and be a part of supporting them, as it takes time, talent, and money to provide high quality artistic opportunities. I encourage everyone to take advantage of the opportunity to invest locally in cultural organizations while being part of a national effort supporting the arts and other nonprofit organizations." Midlands Gives will raise money and awareness for 150 Midlands nonprofits serving a wide range of community needs, including arts and culture. A gift to any of the participating nonprofits will be increased through a bonus pool and prize incentives totaling $90,000.  Every hour, Golden Ticket prizes will add $500 to a randomly selected donor's gift for a total of 24 prizes. During six Power Hours, the nonprofit with the most donors during that hour will receive a $1,000 prize. Take a few minutes before the campaigns launch to check out the list of participating organizations by visiting lowcountrygivingday.org and/or midlandsgives.org. Then, on Tuesday, May 6, between 12 a.m. and 11:59 p.m., simply select the organization(s) and make your donation(s) with a credit card or debit card. You can check the leaderboards throughout the day to view real-time giving results.

Fountain Inn couple’s gift a big boost to the arts

A $1.5 million gift from Melvin and Dollie Younts will help renovate the Fountain Inn Center for Visual and Performing Arts and enhance the city's focus as an arts and cultural destination.

Melvin and Dollie Younts are warm and cheerful examples of extraordinary philanthropy. This Fountain Inn couple has spent a lifetime building a fortune and then giving it away to do so much good for the causes near to their hearts. And during the process, from starting as a young married couple with barely two nickels to rub together to settling into their sunset years with millions of dollars going for their favorite causes, the couple has remained humble, gracious and downright funny. The latest cause to attract their attention is the Fountain Inn Center for Visual and Performing Arts. The Yountses visited The Greenville News recently along with city officials from Fountain Inn to discuss an exciting intersection in the city’s history: The Yountses and their heartfelt philanthropy, and a historic city that is restoring itself in part by a strong emphasis on the arts and cultural events. History will reflect that few people have done more for Fountain Inn during their lives and certainly well into the future than Melvin and Dollie Younts. Their latest gift of $1.5 million will provide about half of the funds needed to transform the Fountain Inn Center for Visual and Performing Arts into a first-class small performing arts facility that greatly enhances the city’s life and contributes immensely to its economic development. The $1.5 million will pay for structural improvements to the center that has been the catalyst for revitalizing Fountain Inn. The building will be renamed the Melvin and Dollie Younts Center for Performing Arts. Fountain Inn officials, aided by Younts and his persuasive powers, are raising another $1.5 to renovate the performing arts center by adding an impressive lobby, an orchestra pit, and new, more comfortable seats. About $1 million of the funds raised will go for what’s called a “fly system” that will greatly increase the ability to bring shows to the center that require sophisticated staging by allowing the center to move sets on and off stage. Fountain Inn Mayor Gary Long said of the performing arts center, “What this is going to do is set us apart. It will set us apart from smaller venues.” And he added, “There’s a lot for small towns to give. People are coming to Fountain Inn (because) it’s a destination place. What Melvin and Dollie are doing is outstanding.” Van Broad, Fountain Inn’s economic development director, said he approached Melvin Younts about making a sizable gift to the renovation of the performing arts center because he knew of the couple’s deep love for the community and exceptional philanthropic outlook on life. The couple has given away millions of dollars in recent years in large part of colleges for academic and athletic programs. Younts was a leader on the Greenville County School Board for 23 years and his wife taught school in the couple’s early years. “I’m glad we could do this,” Younts said of the gift. “Fountain Inn has meant so much to us.” When the couple moved to Fountain Inn, Younts was a new attorney who was quickly embraced by the town, and his wife was a school teacher. Their fortune came from Younts willingness to take calculated risks in the stock market and his success in doing so. The performing arts center that is the beneficiary of their latest major gift was an old school built in 1939 and is now on the National Register of Historic Places. It was a high school until 1957 and then was an elementary school until 1998. Younts went to the high school when it was new, his wife has been a substitute teacher there, all of their children went to elementary school in the building, a daughter has taught in the school, and Melvin Younts has been on stage in the facility, once as a student and more recently in a community production. “This is home,” Younts said. “We’re going to go all out to help it and make it grow. I think this is something beneficial to the people and beneficial to the town.” Fountain Inn has discovered what cities much larger realized decades ago. A vibrant arts community energizes a city and attracts economic development. Broad credits the mayor and city council for deciding five years ago to make the city an arts and cultural destination, and even more so for sticking with that strategy when the bottom fell out of the economy. Five years after the new emphasis took hold, the city is seeing powerful results. Vacant buildings that once dominated the downtown area now are occupied. Ticket sales have risen in this town of 8,000 people from 6,000 in the first year of the performing arts center to 20,000 last year. New restaurants are popping up to accommodate the evening visitors, and more surely will do so as the renovated center is able to handle even more sophisticated shows. Fountain Inn has benefited from solid leadership, and it has a winning strategy that has well served the city of Greenville: Get people downtown. Provide them with inspiring entertainment. And enjoy the success that follows.
Via: The Greenville News