Historic philanthropic gift will support California community college students in most need through emergency financial aid and scholarships
SACRAMENTO, CA—The California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, in partnership with the Foundation for California Community Colleges (FoundationCCC), announced the largest philanthropic gift to community colleges in the nation to date. Over 20 years, the $100 million pledge will help eliminate regional educational gaps by providing scholarships to students who are well on their way toward a finish-line goal of completing a certificate or degree at a California community college or transferring to a university and emergency financial aid to students facing unexpected financial hardships.
This support is being made possible by a donation from the Jay Pritzker Foundation to the FoundationCCC, which serves as the official nonprofit auxiliary to the California Community Colleges. For the first five years, FoundationCCC will deliver grants to 34 community colleges in the three regions of California with the lowest percentage of adults who have college degrees as identified in the Vision for Success: Strengthening the California Community Colleges to Meet California’s Needs: the Inland Empire, the Central Valley, and the Far North.
In this first year, FoundationCCC will grant up to $150,000 per college. Because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on students, 100% of the first year’s grants may be used by colleges to provide students emergency financial aid. In future years, colleges may use grants to provide a combination of scholarships and some emergency financial aid to students. The scholarship amount of up to $18,500 per student per year is intended to cover the estimated true cost of a student’s community college education which includes such costs as textbooks, instructional materials, transportation, housing, childcare, and food.
“This unparalleled level of support for our students will be life-changing,” said Eloy Ortiz Oakley, Chancellor of the California Community Colleges. “We are grateful to the Jay Pritzker Foundation for their generosity and recognition of the California Community Colleges as a vehicle for transformative change.”
“Many community college students have difficulty affording basic needs such as food, shelter, clothing, and childcare. The Jay Pritzker Foundation grant is meant to serve those most in need who have the drive to succeed,” said Dan Pritzker, President of the Jay Pritzker Foundation. “Community colleges provide equal opportunity to pursue high quality education without incurring crushing debt. We believe education is the key to preserving our democracy and hope others will join in supporting community colleges across the country.”
While tuition remains low at community colleges, non-tuition costs make up the majority of student expenses and, combined with California’s higher cost of living, create significant financial barriers to college completion.
“We are deeply appreciative and humbled by this gift,” said Keetha Mills, President and Chief Executive Officer of FoundationCCC. “Philanthropic dollars can make the difference between a student achieving their educational dreams or delaying that goal in favor of other pressing immediate financial needs. The Foundation for California Community Colleges is honored to be entrusted with this gift and will partner with the Chancellor’s Office and our community colleges to use it to help keep our students enrolled and on track to achieving their dreams.”
“This grant will enable thousands of low-income students complete their studies and begin their climb up the economic ladder,” said Tom Epstein, President of the California Community Colleges Board of Governors. “We’re grateful for the generosity of the Jay Pritzker Foundation and the fine work of Foundation for California Community Colleges in collaboration with other community college foundations and Chancellor Oakley.”
"This historic gift changes the landscape for community college philanthropy. It is not only an act of incredible generosity, but also a clear statement that our community colleges are worthy of this level of investment. It will serve as a signal to donors across the country that community colleges are perhaps the best tools we have for increasing social and economic mobility, addressing economic barriers to higher education, and tackling equity issues in our communities,” said Geoff Green, President of the Network for California Community Colleges Foundations and Chief Executive Officer of the Santa Barbara City College Foundation. “It is also a wonderful example of public-private partnership and the benefits of multiple institutions working together. The whole truly is greater than the sum of its parts.”
Historically, philanthropy has played an important role in advancing the vision of the California Community Colleges, including the current Vision for Success. Beneficiaries in the first five years of this $100 million commitment were chosen in alignment with goal six, which aims to accelerate improvements among colleges located in regions with the lowest educational attainment of adults and fully close regional achievement gaps within 10 years.
The California Community Colleges is the largest system of higher education in the nation, composed of 73 districts and 116 colleges with 116 campuses serving 2.1 million students per year. California community colleges provide career education and workforce training; guaranteed transfer to four-year universities; degree and certificate pathways; and basic skills education in English and math. As the state’s engine for social and economic mobility, the California Community Colleges supports the Vision for Success, a strategic plan designed to improve student success outcomes, increase transfer rates and eliminate achievement gaps. For more information, please visit the Facebook and Twitter.
The Foundation for California Community Colleges is the official nonprofit foundation to the California Community Colleges Board of Governors and Chancellor's Office. The Foundation's mission is to benefit, support, and enhance the missions of the California Community Colleges system, the largest higher education system in the nation. Incorporated in 1998, the Foundation works to benefit all California Community College students, colleges, college foundations, and the system as a whole by accelerating paths to economic and social mobility, strengthening communities, and reducing barriers to opportunities for all Californians. The Foundation is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit organization. For more information, visit www.foundationccc.org.