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Oregon community colleges receive ‘challenge grant’

Oregon’s 17 community colleges have been challenged to outpace their fund-raising for student scholarship money next year, thanks to a challenge grant from the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation.

If the colleges can meet the challenge, it would result in hundreds of additional scholarships for some of the most financially strapped students throughout Oregon.

This is an amazing opportunity to further the Southwestern Foundation and College vision..."

“This is an amazing opportunity to further the Southwestern Foundation and College vision of continuing to offer exceptional, accessible educational opportunities on the South Coast,” Southwestern Foundation Director Marie Simonds said. “We will be able to maximize our potential for increasing scholarship opportunities if we can encourage increased giving from current and potential donors.”

The Miller Foundation – an independent private organization established to enhance the quality of life for Oregonians through support of the arts and education – has offered to donate $1.5 million in total to the 17 community colleges. The challenges range from $50,000 for the 10 smallest colleges up to $320,000 for the state’s largest community college. To get the donation, each college’s foundation will have to raise an equal amount in new money – atop the amounts they raised between May 2007 and April 2008 for scholarships.

“We feel community colleges are a vital part of Oregon’s educational system and economy,” Miller Foundation President Chuck Putney said. “However, attendance at these colleges is a financial challenge for many students. Frequently, the opportunity to attend a community college is a pathway to a living wage and a secure family.”

Simonds said the Southwestern Foundation received 191 applications for scholarships last year and has funds for 49 of them. If the College meets the Miller Foundation Challenge, funding for additional scholarships could become available.

Eligible students must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and seek an Oregon Opportunity Grant. The Miller Foundation funds would be added atop those federal and state funds. To be eligible, students must be seeking associate degrees, certificates or professional licenses. Funding is not available for non-credit courses, GED programs, high school diploma programs or courses not designed to meet degree, certificate or licensure requirements.

For more information, those interested can contact the Southwestern Foundation office at 888-7209 or e-mail foundation@socc.edu.

Published Apr 29, 2009

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