May 7, 2020

Helping in times of need: Clark College Foundation

COVID-19 has torn through our world over the past weeks, disrupting lives, putting the health of our family and friends at risk, and destabilizing the local community that we hold dear. We are all coping in the best way we know how, as daily stories of resilience and ingenuity inspire us to keep pushing onward. In this series of blog posts, I am highlighting some amazing stories of resiliency and dedication in Portland’s nonprofit sector—stories of organizations and community members who are fighting to serve our most affected populations.

This week I spoke with Clark College Foundation, which inspires the joy of philanthropy in support of student success and program excellence at Clark College in Vancouver, WA. Since its inception, Clark College Foundation has provided Clark College with nearly $73 million in college-related support. A sizable portion of that support each year is for students. Last year, $1 million in scholarships, special awards, and financial support was directed to 560 students. Additionally, CCF provides $2 to $4 million annually for Clark programs, projects, and faculty/staff development.

Clark College is a bedrock of its community, with programs in advanced manufacturing and mechanical training, business and entrepreneurship, bioscience, and STEM, among many others. Clark College Foundation plays a pivotal role by financially supporting and building relationships with alumni, donors, businesses, and other community members to help the college. Clark is then able to provide its students with the learning and training necessary for them to secure family-wage jobs and contribute to the Pacific Northwest’s economy. A supply of skilled and trained workers will be critical to lifting us out of this recession, but many students are at risk of leaving school due to unanticipated obstacles stemming from the novel coronavirus.

For 47 years, Clark College Foundation has secured the resources necessary for students to continue their education. Today, as we face the repercussions of the global pandemic, the foundation is re-doubling its efforts in three distinct ways to ensure barriers to an education are reduced. It is accepting donations to three specific funds intended to meet the short- and long-term demand. Those funds are:

Flexible scholarships give Clark College flexibility to provide tuition support to all kinds of students in numerous ways, including funds to make sure students complete their studies and prevent them from having to drop out due to financial challenges brought on by the public health pandemic.

Clark College Student Emergency Fund helps students when the unexpected – like the novel coronavirus – becomes the reality. In this new normal, even small expenses can be the difference between a student’s success and failure. Food insecurities, transportation, medical bills, child care, and even a reliable computer and internet service can profoundly affect students desperate to maintain themselves and their families while they continue studying.

Great Needs Fund allows Clark College Foundation to respond as effectively as possible when challenges and needs emerge in real time. The ability to be proactive in an unstable world can make all the difference to the foundation, the college, and to students.

In addition to helping members of Clark College’s community overcome hardships or barriers related to COVID-19, Clark College Foundation is continuing with its Promising Pathways: The Campaign for Clark College to support completion rates for students, the college’s cutting-edge programs in advanced manufacturing and culinary arts, increasing access to education for older members of the community, continuing to award $1 million annually in student scholarships and other types of financial awards, and supporting resources for veterans at Clark College.

Clark College Foundation has risen to the challenged posed by the COVID-19, reaffirming its commitment to students and residents of Southwest Washington. Educational institutions play a key role in training the next generation of thinkers and leaders that will help our communities respond to problems large and small. Clark College Foundation understands that responsibility and is working every day to ensure that no student loses access to education because of the current pandemic. To learn more or make a secure donation online visit