Feather River College students could benefit from a $100 million pledge that provides up $18,500 for eligible students.
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 to date in the nation — $100 million.
The pledge will help eliminate regional educational gaps over 20 years by providing scholarships to students who are on their way toward completing a certificate or degree at a California community college or transferring to a university, by providing 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 — 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 percent 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.
Kevin Trutna, president of Feather River College, lauded the announcement, saying that it will be invaluable to some students. Since the pledge was just announced, he said criteria has not yet been established to apply for the funding.
“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.”