What constitutes a campaign?
Every campaign highlights the numbers—in our case, seven years and 22,409 gifts equaling more than $32 million But behind those numbers are people and their stories. Lots and lots of heartfelt stories. Here’s a deeper dive into the people who have made the Promising Pathways Campaign the most successful fundraising endeavor in the history of Clark College and Clark College Foundation.
Reimagined cuisine and professional baking and pastry arts
A $4 million gift from the Tod and Maxine McClaskey Family Foundation—the largest single gift in this campaign—jumpstarted Clark’s effort to revamp its cuisine, professional baking and pastry arts programs. The gift enabled the college to transform its modest culinary facility into the Tod and Maxine McClaskey Culinary Institute. The new facility is a state-of-the-art education, dining and kiosk establishment complete with an open food court, pastry arts retail kiosk, industrial kitchen and windows allowing guests to see the magic happening inside the kitchen.
A key part to the partnership with the McClaskey Family Foundation was the link the college has with Clark County’s Skills Center and Washington State University Vancouver to help students achieve their college degrees.
“Clark’s new culinary program fits our family’s ideals for excellent food preparation and management, as well as collaborating with other state educational organizations. We are thrilled to be a part of this innovative project,” said Jillian Hagstrom, granddaughter of Tod and Maxine McClaskey.
This wasn’t just for cuisine, it’s professional baking and pastry arts. Be sure to include that.
The Culinary program shut down in 2015, so that the college could remodel the building and revamp the curriculum. Clark College Foundation partnered with the college to raise $10.5 million to modernize the building. In May 2016, the foundation announced a $4 million lead gift from The Tod and Maxine McClaskey Family Foundation for the project. The new program helps train executive chefs, catering managers, restaurant managers or individuals interested in food-related small businesses. The new facility provides hands-on experience in a production kitchen, retail bakery, food kiosks and a full-service dining room. Clark’s Culinary program is the only state-supported program within 120 miles of Vancouver.
As of May, 5,228 individuals and entities have donated—the most ever welcomed since the foundation started holding comprehensive campaigns in 2008. Sixty-five percent of those donors were either first-time contributors or donors who significantly increased their giving. We’ve called it 5,000 Voices. It entails more than simply donating funds, it’s also about sharing a donor’s giving story. There have been dozens of these stories in the pages of this magazine, on our website, in our Penguin Post e-newsletter, featured on our Penguin Chats podcast and at in-person and virtual events.
Pandemic response: Outpouring of generosity
Five years into the Promising Pathways Campaign, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and tuition was no longer the greatest scholarship need. Housing instability, food insecurity, health care costs and a massive child care shortage all threatened to prevent Clark students from completing their educations. But donors responded with an enormous outpouring of generosity, providing more than $800,000 in emergency funding through our Clark College Student Emergency Fund to buy food, pay medical bills and provide child care so students could stay in college. Meanwhile, ongoing support for our Greatest Needs Fund gave us the flexibility to address developing and long-term realities. “We’ve not seen this level of activity from foundations and corporations for years,” said Kathy Chennault, director of development, corporate and foundation relations. “Existing partners stepped forward to ask how they can help during this critical time.”
Hodgepodge of treasures
What do an alley, 200 cherry trees, a bassoon, voice-controlled headsets that activate video images, a drone fuselage and a Caterpillar truck have in common? All were donated to the Promising Pathways Campaign as in-kind gifts. Some material gifts were passed directly to Clark College—a DNA sequencer the biology department, for example, and a 2006 Honda Insight to the automotive department. A commercial fridge and freezer were donated to the Penguin Pantry. Most in-kind gifts were sold, and the money was added to the campaign as cash.
The promise of guided pathways
In 2016, Clark College began a behind-the-scenes transformation from a traditional “cafeteria” model of delivering education into a guided pathways model. Instead of asking students to be college-ready, the guided pathways model prepares the institution to be ready for its students. Colleges that have switched to guided pathways have seen their three-year completion rates skyrocket from 35% to 60% while achievement gaps between demographics have plummeted. The model works by increasing advising and monitoring, providing early intervention when a student veers off the path and offering easy access to college costs, loans, scholarships and other financial aid information. The Promising Pathways Campaign, named after this metamorphosis, raised more than $1 million to pay for advisers and other costs involved in this radical shift.
The campaign was bolstered by $7.5 million in estate gifts. Notably, Robert Wallace, Kitty Welsh, Shelly Corbitt, Cecilia Crowe and Martha Carlson donated large estates to Clark College Foundation. And George B. Oberg Jr. ’58 pledged his estate to the foundation. Each of these donors leaves an enduring legacy.
Robert Wallace ’37, for example, grew up in the Depression and pinched pennies all his life. He also invested wisely, reading the Wall Street Journal every day and carefully tracking financial markets.
His careful saving eventually turned into a multi-million-dollar gift to Clark College Foundation. Wallace, who was one of the ¬-15 students who graduated in 1937, passed away in 2005. When his wife, Mary Wallace, passed away in 2017, his assets were transferred to a trust that will eventually form the Robert B. Wallace Scholarship Endowment.
“He wanted his money to help (less fortunate) students,” said Wallace’s only child, Bob Blanchard.
The Cowlitz Indian Tribe has been a generous partner throughout the campaign. The tribe pledged $246,000 to the Veterans Center of Excellence, for example, and $10,000 to the Penguin Pantry to combat hunger. In November 2021, the Cowlitz Tribal Foundation Clark County Fund provided a $350,000 grant supporting the Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) program. MESA seeks to attract and graduate students from nondominant groups to STEM fields.
The partnership between the Cowlitz Indian Tribe, Clark College Foundation and Clark College is a shining example of our collective commitment to equity and inclusion in higher education and philanthropy. In 2020, the Cowlitz Indian Tribe received the highest philanthropic honor from Clark College Foundation—the Award for Excellence—in recognition of its generous support.
A rising trend: IRA gifts
By 2021, the longest running bull market in history had beefed up retirement accounts while the pandemic reminded retirees of their mortality and led a record number to update their wills and estate plans. For some, required withdrawals from Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) were not financially necessary and led to higher tax bills. For retirees who didn’t need the IRA withdrawals and didn’t want to pay more in taxes, Vivian Manning, director of development for major gifts and gift planning, offered a solution: donate their IRA withdrawals, tax-free.
“It’s a simple idea,” Manning said. “But many had never considered it.”
At the start of the campaign, this type of giving was unheard of. Now, Manning tries to mention it to all the new donors she meets. In the last year of the campaign, 43 people set up charitable gifts directly from their IRAs.
George Fullerton, Clark’s track and field coach from 1959 to 1989, who once ran the fastest mile but missed the glory due to a technicality, lived modestly and invested in rental properties around the Vancouver area. In 2017, he used those investments to endow 20 annual scholarships to student-athletes in perpetuity, creating what he named the Fullerton Athletic Scholarship Team or FAST. Fullerton was inducted into the Clark College Athletics Hall of Fame in 2015. Though he passed away in 2018, Fullerton’s legacy will continue through his scholarships for generations.
A good deed done good
Near the start of this campaign, Carol Ewing and Sanford Jones, retired scientists with an interest in supporting education, put several real estate holdings into a charitable remainder trust. The trust pays them regular income and lowers their taxes. After their lifetimes, the remainder of the trust will become a gift to Clark College Foundation.
Sylvia and Richard Hovey read about the couple’s giving in an issue of this magazine. “Until then, we didn’t fully appreciate the details of a trust,” Richard Hovey said. The Hoveys saw shades of their own financial situation in the story of Ewing and Jones. As a result, the Hoveys set up their own charitable remainder trust to benefit Clark College Foundation. Two of their good friends heard about it and they, too, are in discussions with the foundation on how a charitable remainder trust or other methods might benefit them.
But more importantly, these stories have led people to connect with Clark College Foundation to have discussions about their financial needs and wishes both personally and philanthropically. It all goes to show that one good deed begets more good deeds (while providing income and tax benefits, too.) In all, 21 charitable trusts were set up to benefit Clark students over the course of the Promising Pathways Campaign.
Helping students find jobs
A new position as a workforce education and student engagement navigator will help students connect with employers in the region. This role was created thanks to several foundation partners, Clark College and Workforce Southwest Washington. A lead gift from William W. Hale ’60 and his wife, Judith Matthies, as well as others, made this new position possible.
Veterans Center of Excellence
With 567 veterans currently enrolled in Clark, it’s no wonder the college opened a dedicated Veterans Center of Excellence in 2014 to help them integrate into campus life and prepare to enter the civilian workforce. One priority for this campaign was to hire more staff, expand the center’s space in the Penguin Union Building and stock it with computers and books.
That goal was accomplished thanks to generous gifts from the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and an anonymous donor through the Community Foundation of Southwest Washington. Many other donors also contributed, giving Clark’s veterans a safe and comfortable place to study, receive tutoring, find mentors, pick up loaned textbooks or electronic devices, and talk with their peers. Additionally, numerous retired military officers, business leaders, and a Gold-Star mother banded together as a volunteer advisory group to support the staff at Clark and within the community. The Veterans Center of Excellence has expanded and welcomed a new associate director, Donna Larson, in 2022.
At the start of this campaign, Clark College Foundation set an ambitious goal of raising $8 million for scholarships. Then a funny thing happened: donors blew that number out of the water. The foundation doubled the initial goal to $16 million. And you know what? The campaign exceeded that goal, too.
Denise Galvez ’09 was getting ready to retire from nursing and had mixed feelings about leaving a career that she loved. Then she had an idea: fund a scholarship.
“It was a way to keep new nurses coming into the field and make sure that my shoes were filled,” she said.
She donated to the campaign and created the Helen Galvez Memorial Scholarship in memory of her mother-in-law, who never finished high school. Galvez had the idea of funding a scholarship, but it wasn’t until she opened an email from Clark College Foundation that she knew how to get started.
Denise Galvez was in her late 40s when she decided to leave a lucrative but unfulfilling computer programming career to study nursing. Most of her family thought she was crazy, but her mother-in-law encouraged her wholeheartedly.
“She thought I would be a good nurse,” said Galvez, who was 51 when she graduated from Clark and started working as a nurse. Now, in retirement, the scholarship allows her to jumpstart the nursing careers of others while honoring her late mother-in-law.
“She would love that I’m helping others become nurses,” Galvez said.
Story by Lily Raff McCaulou, a journalist whose writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Guardian and Rolling Stone. She lives in Bend, Ore. Visit her online at www.lilyrm.com.