Koplan is a 2021 Real Hero

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Keith Koplan lauded for volunteer service as a 2021 Real Hero

Keith Koplan, investment chair of Clark College Foundation’s Board of Directors and Clark College alumnus, is a 2021 Real Hero for his exemplary volunteer work within education in Southwest Washington.

Keith Koplan is a community leader and Clark College alumnus

Keith Koplan, seen here in 2015 at a scholarship reception, is chair of CCF’s investment committee and a proud Clark College alumnus.

Koplan, 80, joined the foundation 35 years ago and has led the nonprofit’s investment committee for 25 of those years. Together with other members of the investment committee and Clark College Foundation’s staff, he led the charge in raising more than $2 million to secure a matching endowment challenge grant of more than $4 million in 1993 from the U.S. Department of Education. That investment triggered a windfall of good fortune, starting the foundation on a path from $1 million in assets to more than $128 million in 2022.

Today, Clark College Foundation is among the nation’s top five community college fundraising leaders. Each year, the foundation awards $1.2 million in scholarships to Clark students who otherwise couldn’t afford to attend college. Over the last 10 years, the foundation has contributed a combined average of $3.5 million annually to the college for scholarship, program and capital support.

Supporting Clark College and Clark College Foundation is this community leader’s passion. “I firmly believe that the long-range survival of our democracy requires an educated population. That includes everyone, not just those who can afford a four-year college. Clark College, along with other community colleges, plays a vital role in that process. Helping make Clark available to everyone, regardless of background, has and will be my personal mission,” said Koplan.

For more about Koplan’s legacy and the evolution of the foundation as one of the most respected community foundations in the nation, listen to our Penguin Chats podcast, “The places we will go.”

The Real Hero effort is part of the Learn Here Project, an initiative coordinated by the nonprofit, Identity Clark County. The project honors individuals who demonstrate outstanding service to students and education in Clark County. The Learn Here Project is part of a regional storytelling campaign called “Land Here, Live Here” intended to retain and attract residents, businesses and guests to Southwest Washington.

Another of the honorees in 2021 was Mike Silva, information technology support technician at Clark College who has worked at the institution for 20 years.

Clark College and Clark College Foundation have had several others praised as Real Heroes, including Eric Merrill and Cheree Nygard. Merrill, a former Clark College Foundation Board of Directors chair, received the award in 2020 and Nygard, who is also a former board chair, in 2019.

Clark alumnus Jay Gilberg, former president of Clark College Foundation’s Alumni Board, received the accolade in 2018, as did Rashida Willard, vice president of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Clark College.

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Aemri Marks is a Clark alumna who raised money for scholarships.Cowlitz Indian Tribe is a supporter of Clark College Foundation.