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California Community Colleges create $67.7 million scholarship endowment to support nearly 3,400 students every year

SACRAMENTO, Calif.—August 15, 2011—A three-year fundraising campaign has culminated in a permanent scholarship fund of more than $67.7 million, providing thousands of California Community College students with much-needed financial support every year. The California Community Colleges Scholarship Endowment is the largest system-wide community college endowment in America and will offer long-term relief from the rising costs that keep many students from completing their education.

The endowment and subsequent fundraising campaign began in May 2008 with The Bernard Osher Foundation’s unprecedented lead gift of $25 million to the Foundation for California Community Colleges, the largest-ever single gift to a community college system in the nation’s history. The organization also committed up to another $25 million in match dollars as an incentive for the colleges to garner additional philanthropic support. 

Over the course of three years, California Community Colleges raised $28.5 million for the fund, triggering $14.2 million in match dollars from the Osher Foundation. The resulting $67.7 million endowment will fund scholarships at each of the state’s 112 community colleges in perpetuity.  

“With its historic commitment, the Osher Foundation launched a new era of philanthropy for California Community Colleges,” said Dr. Paul Lanning, President and CEO of the Foundation for California Community Colleges. “Over the past three years, this fundraising challenge not only helped our system increase financial support to students who need it most, but it also created a powerful reference point for other donors that our system and students are worthy of this level of investment.” 

“The significance of this initiative and the Osher Foundation’s generosity cannot be overstated: In addition to raising the level of philanthropy among our colleges, this scholarship endowment has been life-changing to countless individuals. At a time when community colleges continuously struggle to do more with fewer resources, this fund ensures that thousands of students every year will get the financial support they need,” commented Dr. Jack Scott, Chancellor of the California Community Colleges. 

The California Community Colleges Scholarship Endowment has already benefited thousands of the state’s community college students. Since its inception in May 2008, $2.7 million in scholarship funds have been awarded, with an additional $2.1 million to be awarded during the 2011-12 academic year. In future years, an estimated 3,380 students annually will receive scholarships from the endowment.

“From its beginning in 1977, The Bernard Osher Foundation has focused on scholarships to provide opportunity for higher education to a progressively diverse population of students. While our grants traditionally went to institutions awarding baccalaureate degrees, Mr. and Mrs. Osher and our trustees developed greater familiarity with the importance and value of California’s community college system and determined to be of more help to students with significant financial challenges and a strong commitment to education and self-improvement,” noted Dr. Mary Bitterman, Osher Foundation President. 

Dr. Bitterman also noted the Osher Foundation’s vision for the initiative. “We hope that the results of this campaign will be twofold—that California’s community colleges will be increasingly recognized as a treasured asset of the state, and that philanthropic funds will be released in ever larger amounts to support present and future generations of California’s community college students.”

With over 2.7 million students enrolled, the California Community Colleges make up the largest system of higher education in the nation. Community colleges enroll the state's lowest income students. Full time students have an annual median income of $16,223 and one-fourth of those students have incomes of less than $5,544 per year. Currently, over half of California Community College students have no resources to pay for college.

For more information, visit www.SupportTheEndowment.org. 

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The Foundation for California Community Colleges is the official non-profit 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 College system, the largest higher education system in the nation. Incorporated in 1998, the Foundation works with Community Colleges and partner organizations to manage donations, grants, programs, and services that drive excellence in education while saving millions of dollars for colleges each year.  The Foundation is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit corporation and receives no direct state or public support. 

California’s Community Colleges serve as the nation’s largest system of higher education and were created to provide affordable and accessible educational opportunities for all Californians. Today, the system serves nearly 3 million students each year, enrolls three out of every ten Californians age 18-24, educates the majority of the state’s workforce, and provides a stepping-stone for students on the pathway to four-year and graduate degrees. Playing a significant role in the state’s workforce, California Community Colleges educate 80 percent of firefighters, law enforcement officers, and emergency medical technicians. In addition, 70 percent of the nurses in California received their education from Community Colleges.

The Bernard Osher Foundation was founded in 1977 by Bernard Osher, a respected businessman and community leader in San Francisco. The Foundation seeks to improve quality of life through support for higher education and the arts. The Foundation’s nine-member Board of Directors is chaired by the Honorable Barbro Osher, Consul General of Sweden in California. 

 
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