Wealthy philanthropist Anita Zucker has a lot more in common with Trident Tech students than most people realize.
Zucker, chairwoman and chief operating officer of The InterTech Group, is a community college graduate who worked her way through school as a teaching assistant.
“People think I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth — not true” Zucker said. “I get it.”
But for Zucker, it's about more than just relating to students. It's about giving them concrete help.
She and her family donated $1 million Thursday to Trident Technical College.
The gift will be used for technology improvements and scholarships. It marks the second $1 million gift Trident Tech has received in the last 18 months.
School leaders announced the pledge at a luncheon on the school's North Charleston campus.
The donation kicks off the public phase of the Building Opportunity capital campaign, through which school leaders hope to raise $3.5 million for technology and scholarships.
Zucker, who completed a two-year program at Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Fla., then graduated from the University of Florida, said $900,000 of the money will go toward critical technology infrastructure upgrades and $100,000 will be used to create a scholarship endowment.
It is important that the college have the latest technology because it helps students prepare for the business world, Zucker said. Trident Tech is an organization that serves the business community.
And scholarship money is essential for many Trident Tech students who don't have extra money available to pay for living expenses and their educations. “This is a very affordable institution, but that still doesn't mean everybody can manage the dollars necessary,” Zucker said.
Trident Tech President Mary Thornley said she was grateful for such a generous donation. “This is not a routine type of event for Trident Technical College,” she said.
Anita Zucker and her late husband, Jerry Zucker, have previously been generous to the college with their money and their time, Thornley said.
Jerry Zucker served on the school's Electronics Engineering Technology Advisory Committee for many years. Anita Zucker is a former member and chairwoman of the college foundation's board of trustees. She currently serves on the school's governing board, and is the chairwoman of the Building Opportunity capital campaign.
Kim Sturgeon, executive director of the Trident Technical College Foundation, said that including the $1 million Zucker gift, the campaign raised $2.6 million in its quiet phase. Foundation leaders now will continue pushing to meet their $3.5 million goal.
And the Zuckers' donation gave the campaign a boost, she said. “The gift is incredible and transformative,” she said. “It set the campaign up for success.”
Reach Diane Knich at 937-5491 or on Twitter @dianeknich.