Utica, NY (WIBX) - Mohawk Valley Community College announced its first ever major gift campaign to raise $7 million to further educational opportunities in the Mohawk Valley.

College Spokesperson, Matthew Snyder said the "Challenge and Opportunity" campaign is looking for donations from local individuals, businesses and non-profit organizations. "Today, we're proud to announce that our first large gift of $250,000.00 has come from Steve Mandia the CEO of Mandia International," he said.

Snyder said the college will work with other local organizations to grow the campaign's fund to further its cause of providing scholarships to area students. He said its highest priority is to expand opportunities in education for area residents saying, "By expanding what we are able to do with scholarships, MVCC hopes to be more accessible to the community and really capitalize on our strength in terms of offering a high quality education to most people here in Oneida County."

Students who graduate in the top 10 percent of their class are eligible to apply for the presidential scholarships offered at MVCC and the $7 million is to continue to fund the program. Snyder says the program's goal is to support up to 90 students annually through the presidential scholarship program.

According to Bloomberg Business Week, "Stephen M. Mandia founded East Coast Olive Oil Corporation in 1991 and has been its Chief Executive Officer and President since 1991. Mr. Mandia has been an Independent Director of Conmed Corp., since July 2002. He serves on the Board of Gem Packing Corp., Utica Plastics, LLC, ECOO Realty Corp., Olive Transport Corp., and Northside Gourmet Corp., which are all affiliated with East Coast Olive Oil Corp."