Saturday, August 9, 2008

Community College Challenge

When I made the decision to return to college, at the age of 36, I chose to go to community college for a couple of reasons. The thought of going to a university scared the crap out of me. Financially, I didn't think there was a way. Emotionally, after being out of school for almost twenty years, I didn't have a clue as to how I would do as a student, and knew I would likely need support, more easily found at a community college. Physically, I knew that I wouldn't be able to navigate a really large campus because my injuries at the time were too much. I went back to school because I couldn't do my old work (restaurant management) anymore and needed new skills. What I found at community college was the beginning of a whole new life. It sounds really corny, but my whole world opened up and I don't really think I would be succeeding at the level I am if I had not gone to community college before going to a university. It affected me enough for me to know that, no matter what else I do between here and there, working in student development at a community college is what I want to do when I grow up.

All of this is a lead up to this
post that I found about a grant challenge to all 17 of Oregon's community colleges.

Supporters of students at Oregon’s 17 community colleges have been challenged to increase their giving to scholarship funds next year, thanks to a challenge grant from the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation.

The Miller Foundation – an independent, private organization established to enhance the quality of life of Oregonians through support of the arts and education – has offered to donate a total of $1.5 million in scholarship funds to the 17 community college, in varying amounts depending on enrollments. The challenges range from $50,000 for the 10 smallest community colleges, including Clatsop Community College, up to $320,000 for Portland Community College, the state’s largest community college

To qualify for the grant, each college’s foundation will have to raise an equal amount in new scholarship funds – atop the amounts they raised between April 2007 and March 2008 for scholarships.

“A challenge grant like this is really terrific,” says Nadine Faith, Executive Director of Clatsop Community College Foundation. “It means that for every new scholarship dollar an individual or business in our community contributes to help our students, Miller Foundation will match it with a scholarship donation of its own . . . effectively doubling a local donor’s impact on student opportunity.”

Each community college has its own Foundation, so you can pick whichever one you want.

The fact that we are in economically hard times, does not make it easy to raise money. However, considering that community colleges are the absolute backbone for a skilled workforce, any dollars raised are an investment in improving our future economy. The state is projecting that by 2010-2012, 80% of liveable-wage jobs in this state will require at least an Associate's degree.

Think of any cornball life-changing story you can about people turning their lives around, and you will find an example of it in a community college student somewhere.

And here is the rest of it.

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