Community Foundation grant sets financial clarity for Clark students

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$30,000 grant to break generational cycles of poverty

Community Foundation SW Washington

Low-income, first-generation students, are the most likely to drop out of college, nearly four times more likely than those who have neither of these risk factors.

Clark College Foundation received a grant from the Community Foundation for Southwest Washington to assist in breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty in the region. The $30,000 grant is designated for a full-time financial literacy coach within Clark College’s Career Services department.

“This financial literacy coach will provide much-needed, one-on-one assistance to many of Clark’s most vulnerable students to help them set practical and achievable financial goals so they can succeed in college,” said Lisa Gibert, president/CEO, Clark College Foundation. “We are grateful to the Community Foundation for Southwest Washington’s leadership in helping us serve the highest need families in our region.”

At Clark, among pre-college and college-level students, 72 percent are first-generation, 47 percent come from low-income backgrounds and 39 percent have low incomes and are first-generation.

“Our grants committee saw this proposal as an opportunity to support students who are striving for a better life through higher education,” said Jennifer Rhoads, president of the Community Foundation. “On behalf of our many supporters, we are honored to strengthen the efforts of our local community college as they work to ensure that every student is able to achieve their dream of a college degree.”

The grant provides the funding to upgrade an existing Career Services position from part-time to full-time. The individual will conduct workshops and classroom presentations focusing on topics such as budgets, balancing a checkbook, understanding credit cards, credit scores and loan repayment, according to Edie Blakley, director of Career and Veteran Services.

“Working with students to teach them financial wellness strategies will result in self-sufficiency and increase the likelihood that they will attain their economic, education and career goals,” said Blakley.

The coach will positively impact significant numbers of vulnerable Clark students, 54 percent of whom are from families below the poverty level and 60 percent are unemployed and/or on public assistance. Moreover, nearly three-quarters of Clark students are the first generation in their families to attend college.

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