Rock Hill's Clinton Junior College can trace its long, proud history back to 1894. But Friday's Founders Day Celebration had much to cheer regarding the school's modern-day incarnation.
The Clinton Institute, associated from the beginning with the AME Zion Church, was founded as a boarding school for newly freed blacks. It became Clinton Normal and Industrial Institute in the early 20th century and began granting state teacher certificates. Today, it serves about 80 students as a two-year institution.
Clinton has progressed in a number of ways in a few short years, thanks in no small part to the leadership of its president, Elaine Copeland. This year's Founders Day Celebration alone brought in more than $70,000 in donations.
In 2005, the college dedicated a new $3 million library. Federal grants helped build the library, but the project would not have been possible without the commitment of numerous private benefactors, most notably AME Zion bishops, several of whom are Clinton alumni.
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In 2006, Clinton joined with Habitat for Humanity to build homes for low- to moderate-income families in the Crawford Road neighborhood near the campus. The college won two federal HUD grants totaling $1 million to build on vacant property near the Emmett Scott Center. A portion of the money will also be used to revitalize Carroll Park near the recreation center.
Money from the sale of the homes will allow the college to build another home in what the school hopes will be a continuing cycle. This should help families find affordable homes, improve property values in the neighborhood and provide the foundation for a flourishing neighborhood around the college.
The next goal is a new athletic and academic building. The new building would include science labs, a music library, auditorium, gym and fitness center.
It appears that Clinton's historic journey will continue for many years to come.