|Lisa and Jessica Wilson|
A foundation that has provided more than $1 million in donations to Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges has been honored with the second annual Bill and Judy Garrett Civic Leadership Award.
The award was presented Thursday night to the Rice Family Foundation at a dinner honoring donors to the Foundation for Grossmont & Cuyamaca Colleges.
“The Rice Family Foundation’s support of our colleges embodies the spirit of the Bill and Judy Garrett Civic Leadership Award, which recognizes an individual or group that leads with integrity and supports student success,” said Sally Cox, chief executive officer of the district foundation.
The award was accepted by Lisa Wilson, niece of the Rice Family Foundation’s creator, Morgan Rice, and her daughter Jessica, also a foundation board member. Wilson said her uncle, who died in 2004, believed in the transforming power of education.
“We love both of these colleges,” Wilson said. “They are the basis of our community. We’re proud of everything that Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges have done.”
The Rice Family Foundation was created in 1993 by Morgan Rice, an El Centro native who made his fortune by investing in San Diego real estate, particularly on Mount Miguel near Spring Valley. The emphasis of funding and grants from the foundation is on education, particularly programs that benefit the economically disadvantaged in San Diego County. Some beneficiaries of the foundation’s largesse include Balboa Park museums, the San Diego Zoo, K-12 educational programs, literacy programs, and programs related to music and the arts.
Rice developed a relationship with Cuyamaca College, located near Mount Miguel, when he offered the college a shipping container he didn’t need. Rice contacted Brad Monroe, then head of the college’s Ornamental Horticulture department. Monroe accepted the shipping container – which is still used by the college today – and a lifelong friendship was born.
Rice, who loved the outdoors and had a keen interested in horticulture and geology, became highly involved with Cuyamaca College’s Ornamental Horticulture program. In 1995, the Morgan Rice Internship Program was established through a grant by the Rice Family Foundation. The grant provides students with learning opportunities in nursery production and sales, integrating classroom training with practical work experience. The Rice Family Foundation continues to fund the program, along with scholarships to students in the Ornamental Horticulture program.
Since the early 2000s, the Grossmont College Theatre Arts Department has also been a beneficiary of the Rice Family Foundation. A foundation board member learned of the college’s touring program that presents performing arts based on children’s literature to East County elementary school children. The Rice Family Foundation provided funding to expand the touring show and include more shows at more schools. It now reaches about 16 East County schools, benefitting more than 8,000 children.
For more information about the Foundation for Grossmont & Cuyamaca Colleges, go to https://foundation.gcccd.edu/ .