Finding success, one journey at a time

 In Campaign, News, Partners Magazine

Of the funds we’ve raised, 12% are from donors representing non-dominant communities or are supportive of social change and other efforts to eliminate systemic barriers to education.

With Clark College Foundation’s Promising Pathways fundraising campaign coming to its exciting conclusion in June 2022, speculating about what happens when one journey ends and another begins is tempting. Where will the college family turn next when the institution’s largest and most successful fundraising effort comes to an end and the last bit of confetti is swept off the floor?

As much as we would like to peer into the crystal ball and see what’s ahead for Clark and how its community will be called upon to support it philanthropically, let’s take some time to celebrate the journey we’ve been on for more than six years and the tremendous accomplishments achieved on behalf of our remarkable college.

Clark College Foundation's Promising Pathways campaign is close to its goal.Of course, the figure most of us tend to look at first is the amount raised compared to the goal; here the news is exciting and encouraging for future campaigns. Against a campaign goal of $30 million, more than $29 million has been secured as of November 2021, with approximately eight months remaining in the campaign to raise the balance. If all goes as planned, Clark College Foundation should pass the $30 million mark by the time the institution celebrates the end of the campaign at our annual Savoring Excellence gala in May 2022.

It’s important to understand that no one is taking anything for granted, and there is still important work to take place between now and next spring. The final stretch promises to be thrilling. We hope donors who have not yet made a commitment, step forward in the final months of the campaign to demonstrate their support for Clark College.

While the $30 million goal is an important metric to focus on, a significant fundraising campaign is made up of numerous goals and milestones—and they all need to be acknowledged and celebrated.

For example, one of the most important factors in any campaign is what we call the pool of potential donors or partners that an institution relies on to participate. In the case of Clark’s Promising Pathways campaign, the foundation determined that in order to be successful, the institution would have to secure gifts from at least 5,000 unique individuals and entities. That’s not to say the campaign only requires 5,000 gifts; indeed, as of October, the campaign had secured more than 20,000 gifts from a base of 5,047 unique individuals and organizations. Earlier this year, Clark College Foundation surpassed this important milestone of involving at least 5,000 donors with more than 65% of them as first-time contributors or who have significantly increased their giving during the campaign.

Securing scholarship funding has been a major point of pride during this campaign. The original goal for scholarships gifts was $8 million—more than a quarter of the campaign goal. But a tremendous thing happened along our promising pathways journey. Donors continued to contribute scholarships for Clark’s students, so much so that the foundation achieved the scholarship goal not once but twice; doubling it to $16 million. As of this fall, donors have provided nearly $14 million in current and future scholarship funding. Because of this success, Clark College Foundation is providing more than $1 million in scholarships, special awards and financial support to hundreds of students for a sixth consecutive year.

The type of scholarship funding has also changed. While donors continue to primarily support restricted funds to designated academic programs, Clark’s philanthropic partners have given nearly $5 million to flexible scholarship funding—awards and grants that cover many of the costs associated with getting an education, such as child care, transportation, food, books and specialized examinations. In today’s challenging academic environment, covering just tuition costs is not enough. Myriad financial challenges facing students are real and profound. These are often the reasons why so many drop out of school. Flexible scholarships are making a significant difference for many lives.

Endowment boost

Endowment funds have received a significant boost as a result of this campaign. More than $10 million has been raised or committed to create new endowments or add to the foundation’s $81 million endowment. We could see more increases in this area before the campaign is completed.

Clark College Foundation’s endowment fund is the fourth largest in the nation among community colleges. Whether it’s supporting faculty development, purchasing new technology or providing specialized scholarships for needy students, Clark’s endowment will continue to deliver much-needed funding, ensuring a secure financial future for the college.

Finally, it’s also time to acknowledge and celebrate the different individuals and communities that have participated in this campaign. While there is still a long way to go to make campaigns more inclusive of non-dominant communities and focused on priorities that benefit marginalized students and communities, Clark College Foundation has demonstrated significant progress in knocking down the traditional hurdles that have enveloped higher education philanthropy for generations.Clark College Foundation's Promising Pathways campaign has exceeded its donor goal.

For example, in the current campaign, approximately 12% of funds raised are from donors who have identified as representing non-dominant communities or are supportive of social change and other efforts to eliminate systemic barriers to education. Millions of dollars are now supporting programs like guided pathways, emergency grants and flexible scholarships. These and other initiatives are specifically focused on services and opportunities that keep students in school and help them complete their studies and find meaningful positions that pay living wages. This level and type of giving represents a seismic shift in the way people are beginning to think about higher education philanthropy. Clark College Foundation is proud to be at the forefront of this exciting evolution.

The future indeed looks promising as a result of the Promising Pathways campaign. But while we anticipate the opportunities and new journeys that the future brings, let’s make sure to celebrate the good things that are happening now as we finish this historic campaign supporting our deserving students, faculty and staff. Give to Promising Pathways: the Campaign for Clark College.

The end of one journey is the beginning of the next.   ~ Joseph M. Marshall III, historian, writer

Joel B. Munson is the chief advancement officer.Written by Joel B. Munson, chief advancement officer at Clark College Foundation.

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A student at Sarah J. Anderson Elementary School.Clark partners with private businesses that offer relevant, paid work experience to students.