Bank of America provides funding for Clark veterans
$15,000 grant provides direct services to veterans at Clark’s Veterans Resource Center
Bank of America Charitable Foundation recently provided Clark College Foundation with a generous $15,000 grant in support of Clark College’s student veterans.
The grant counts toward a fundraising effort to raise $2 million for Clark’s Veterans Resource Center. Promising Pathways: The Campaign for Clark College is a $35 million campaign aimed at transforming the lives of students, providing opportunities and sharing the legacies of Clark’s partners and donors. Major areas such as advanced manufacturing, scholarships and a new academic framework called Guided Pathways, designed to retain more students and lead them to graduation, are some of Clark’s other top priorities.
The Bank of America grant helps students like Alison, a Navy veteran whose service included time aboard the destroyer, the USS Cole. While on active duty, she was an electronics and telecommunications technician.
One of the reasons Alison enlisted in the Navy was for the education benefits. Today, she’s a reservist and mother of two small children. She transferred from Clark College, where she studied information technology, to Washington State University Vancouver in 2019 to pursue a bachelor’s degree in accounting and mathematics with the goal of working in business. Her husband, Scott, also a Navy veteran, currently attends Clark College. Their children attend the Oliva Early Learning Center.
Attending college is challenging for Alison. She is often older than many of her classmates. She is reminded that veterans bring alternative life experiences to campus, including combat, physical injuries and mental trauma. Many of their classmates simply can’t relate.
The VRC is an important part of Alison and Scott’s college experience. They both visit the VRC regularly to access the computer lab, print their assignments, use the study area, receive tutoring and use the textbook lending library. But more than that, the VRC is a safe space where they can relax and unwind. Even after transferring to another institution, Alison still spends time at Clark’s VRC when she’s not in class.
“The greatest benefit the VRC provides is a safe place to converse with fellow veterans. We veterans have a unique view of the world around us…In the VRC, I feel a part of the group,” said Alison.
Without the VRC, Alison says she would not have been able to take the more than 15 credits per term she took while attending Clark. Because of the assistance she received—and her own hard work—she maintained a spot on the honor roll and was a member of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society. As she worked on her Clark degree, she worked at the VRC for extra money.
The Bank of America funding provides for textbooks, school supplies, on-campus dental services, career assessments, emergency grant funds, certification exam fees, work-related tools, equipment and supplies through Clark’s Veteran’s Resource Center.
“From counseling to emergency housing support, job skills training and even dental services through Clark’s Dental Hygiene program, the Veterans Resource Center performs the work of angels every single day,” said Lisa Gibert, CEO of Clark College Foundation. “Financial support from the community guarantees our student veterans will never be forgotten.”
Veterans who are transitioning to civilian life persist in higher education and prosper in the workplace when they have access to a community at Clark. They are more likely to earn a certificate or degree and obtain a living-wage job. Even those with GI Bill education benefits are unable to cover all the costs associated with school, housing, food and transportation. Additionally, Clark’s emergency grant program, which offers one-time financial assistance for urgent needs, is a lifeline for veterans facing eviction or other crises that might derail their education.
Clark’s Veterans Resource Center helps hundreds of veterans obtain the education and workforce training they need to succeed in the workplace and transition to civilian life. Veterans historically experience homelessness, disabilities, mental health issues, suicides and addictions at rates far greater than the non-veteran public. In fact, 67 percent of Clark’s student veterans are low income and 83 percent are first-generation college students. Many Clark students acknowledge that they suffer from mental health challenges, experience food and housing insecurities, and struggle with pain, trauma and disabilities. Therefore, Clark’s VRC is a safe and supportive place that helps our veterans.
Through private support—such as the Bank of America Charitable Foundation grant—Clark can provide enhanced wraparound services to address financial, academic, personal and professional challenges that negatively affect students’ abilities to continue in their course of study. Qualified students receive assistance with books, certification fees, emergency grants, access to computers and printers, financial literacy training and similar services that help student veterans to continue their education after active duty.
This was first published on 12/26/18. The story was updated 5/7/19.