A retired oil industry executive who grew up in Salina is offering $400,000 to help build Salina Area Technical College’s new Industrial Maintenance and Automation building – provided the college can raise an equal amount in new donations.
Damon Button, who lives in Midland, Texas, said that even though he no longer has any “real ties to Salina,” he still follows Salina news.
“I started following what was going on at Salina Tech some time ago,” he said. “Six months ago I read about your new project being built.”
The Industrial Maintenance and Automation program is intended to fill a growing regional need for employees who can install, set up and maintain automated manufacturing systems, which are becoming increasingly common.
When the project was announced in January, Salina Tech had already secured $1.8 million from the Kansas Department of Commerce as a matching grant requiring the college raise at least another $1.8 million.
In mid-May, when Button saw the announcement of the Sunderland Foundation’s $400,000 donation towards the project, “I thought this would be the best way to support Salina Tech.”
When he talked with Brenda Gutierrez, Executive Director of the Salina Tech Foundation, regarding a possible contribution, he found that while there have been several substantial donations, fundraising wasn’t meeting its goal.
That situation also fit well with Button’s priorities: “My charitable giving is directed to education … focused on facilities and getting projects over the hump.”
Button and Gutierrez discussed how the Robert and Aileen Button Fund could best help; the fund is named for Button’s parents, who lived most of their lives in Salina and died in the late 1980s.
Under the challenge grant, Salina Tech must raise $400,000 in new donations in order to receive the $400,000 Robert and Aileen Button Fund donation. No specific deadline has been set.
Gutierrez and Salina Tech President Greg Nichols said they hope the challenge encourages potential donors.
“We’ve only been actively fundraising for less than six months, and there are a lot of prospects we haven’t talked to yet,” Nichols said. “This challenge is a great way for someone to leverage their investment in Salina Tech.”
In addition to helping meet the goal of Button’s challenge, Nichols added that Kansas donors can also take advantage of a state income tax credit available for donations to Salina Tech. A $10,000 donation, for example, would not only help meet the requirements of the challenge grant, but also qualify for a state income tax credit of up to $6,000.
To find out more about Salina Tech’s new Industrial Maintenance and Automation program and how to donate, contact Gutierrez at 785-309-3121 or Brenda.Gutierrez@salinatech.edu.