Funding the Future


Produced by the Oregon Business marketing department

0613 YS PCC 05Preston Pulliams retires as president of Portland Community College (PCC) this month, and as part of his swan song, he’s asking corporate donors and community leaders to participate in a new fundraising campaign. Launched last year, “The Campaign for Opportunity” aims to help fund educational opportunities for first-generation college students, who comprise 40% of PCC’s student population.

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Produced by the Oregon Business marketing department

BY CORY MIMMS

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Above: Associate vice president Kristin Watkins (left) with director of developent Kim Kono
Below: Commissioner Amanda Fritz with students enrolled in PCC’s Future Connect scholarship program
// Photos by Christopher Barth
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Preston Pulliams retires as president of Portland Community College (PCC) this month, and as part of his swan song, he’s asking corporate donors and community leaders to participate in a new fundraising campaign. Launched last year, “The Campaign for Opportunity” aims to help fund educational opportunities for first-generation college students, who comprise 40% of PCC’s student population.

In a recent letter to the PCC donor community, Pulliams said the aim is to reverse the alarming trend toward undereducated youth, which diminishes “our economic vitality and our state’s quality of life.” More than half of the campaign’s $1 million goal has been reached, with Hoffman Construction providing the largest donation so far: $50,000. The idea is to raise the full 1 million by the time incoming president Jeremy Brown takes over on July 1.

Money from the campaign will funnel into various scholarship funds and student-support programs at PCC. One beneficiary is the Jefferson Middle College, a partnership between PCC, Portland Public Schools and Jefferson High School. Students in the program are required to attend PCC and graduate from high school with 12 to 45 college credits.

Future Connect, a PCC scholarship program, will also receive funding from the Campaign for Opportunity. Last fall 200 Future Connect students enrolled at PCC, 92% of whom were from low-income families; 83% were first-generation students. Each group of incoming Future Connect students requires approximately $760,000 in scholarships and student services over two years. Half the money comes from the cities of Portland and Hillsboro.

Key to the effectiveness of the program is the “college success coaching,” which helps underprivileged students adapt to college life, plan careers and transfer to four-year universities. “It dramatically increases the success rates of these students,” PCC associate vice president Kristin Watkins says. “Without those supports, they’re not likely to succeed in college.”


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Above: Last fall 200 Future Connect students enrolled at PCC.
Below: First-generation college students comprise 40% of PCC’s student population.
// Photos by Christopher Barth
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As tuition costs around the state continue their upward climb, corporate partnerships and scholarships are critical to ensure low-income students have equal access to post-secondary education. During the 2012-13 school year, tuition increases ranged from 3.8% at Portland State University to 9.9% at Southern Oregon University.

A full-time student at PCC carries an annual tuition load of approximately $4,000, a relatively inexpensive education. The high rate of return is one of the reasons Oregon companies have a history of investing in PCC programs. Intel, for example, supports the microelectronics program and hires a significant number of the program’s graduates. SolarWorld partners with the college to train future employees.

“We have quite a bit of corporate support,” PCC director of development Kim Kono says, and it is this support that makes educational opportunities for disadvantaged young people possible.

In the 21st century, higher education is increasingly important for job attainment. At the same time, the traditional four-year university is out of reach for a growing number of students. Now more than ever, low-income students are looking to community colleges to meet their educational goals. The Campaign for Opportunity aims to make those goals a reality. “No other institution provides the same kind of access to a college education that we do, and to this particular group of students,” Watkins says.

Approximately 1.3 million students have attended PCC since it was founded in 1961, and in the past five years alone, the college awarded 16,000 certificates and degrees in 80 different areas of study. With 94,000 students across 13 school districts, it is the largest institution of higher education in Oregon.

0613 YS PCC LogoP.O. Box 19000
Portland, OR 97280
971-722-4382