Corporations, foundations answer call to help students

 In Campaign, News, News Releases
Contributions from new and existing foundations and corporate partners play key role in supporting students during COVID-19


Clark College Foundation has raised nearly $2 million since March 2020 to support students and the college due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. The funding is part of the foundation’s $35 million Promising Pathways: The Campaign for Clark College.

The nonprofit secured nearly $500,000 since the beginning of March earmarked specifically to support students in need due to COVID-19. That amount rose to $800,000 by the end of the campaign in June 2022. Funds enable the foundation to provide scholarships, technology resources and equipment for programs. Support is also available via emergency grants for students in crisis.

Contributions from new and existing foundations and corporate partners have been key in assisting students during these difficult months.

“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 have stepped forward to ask how they can help during this critical time. We’re also building relationships with first-time individual donors and new foundations and corporate partners. Their commitment is truly inspiring.”

Clark College moved all of its classes and student services online in mid-March. Although some in-person labs began meeting with a limited number of students in July, most classes, the Diversity Center, library, Counseling & Health Services, Veterans Resource Center, advising and counseling, registration and other student services will continue to be virtual through the end of fall quarter. Students have experienced a loss of human connection during the pandemic since they have not been on campus and that has led to increased needs. Additionally, loss of jobs has resulted in severe financial pressures for some of Clark’s students who are vulnerable. The philanthropic community has stepped in to ease some of stresses and assist with costs related to housing, car repairs, utilities, food and other urgent needs.

Here is a sampling of the contributions from foundations and corporate partners since March 2020:

In May, the Community Foundation for Southwest Washington provided $65,000 for emergency grants and scholarships for non-dominant students who are facing challenges related to COVID-19. From that gift, $25,000 is for student emergency grants through three existing scholarships: the Constance Baker Motley Grant Fund to assist students of color; the Dreamcatchers Grant Fund to assist Indigenous students; and, the Sharon Keilbarth Grant Fund to help LGBTQIA+ students. The remaining $40,000 is available for emergency grants, scholarships and other school-related needs, for other marginalized students.

In July, the Hon. Frank L. and Arlene G. Price Foundation provided two grants. The first $40,000 grant is for virtual simulation software for hands-on learning in Clark’s Nursing and Medical Assisting programs. The second $15,000 grant is for scholarships and emergency grants. The COVID-19 pandemic forced Clark to move the majority of its courses to virtual platforms, while traditional clinical experiences in area hospitals and nursing facilities were shuttered. The Washington State Nursing Commission is allowing allied health programs to replace up to 250 hours of clinical experience with simulation. The Price Foundation grant helps with Clark’s effort to offer virtual simulations to aid in learning.

The Anna C. MacAskill Schwab and Dwight L. Schwab Sr. Charitable Foundation awarded a $25,000 grant for Clark College’s Veterans Resource Center (VRC) to support veterans in crisis during the coronavirus pandemic. This unexpected generous grant is in addition to a $24,000 grant received in November 2019 for VRC technology upgrades and $20,000 for scholarships. Funds help stabilize students experiencing financial difficulties as the result of the pandemic, including technology, housing and food. The Schwab Foundation is a long-standing partner of Clark College Foundation.

In July, Building Changes, a Seattle-based nonprofit in conjunction with the Raikes Foundation, awarded a first-time grant of $20,000 from its Washington State Student and Youth Homelessness COVID-19 Response Fund. The support will help Clark students—aged 24 or younger—who are experiencing homelessness and who don’t qualify for federal funding or Clark’s emergency grant funding. For young adults at Clark, the loss of access to the Diversity Center, library, Veterans Resource Center and other spaces where they would normally gather to connect with other students and get support from staff, means a loss of connection. Moreover, homeless students can no longer access the fitness center to take showers since the campus is closed. The grant from Building Changes and Raikes Foundation helps mitigate the stress Clark students are experiencing. A 2018 survey of Clark students found that 35% experienced homelessness, housing insecurity, and/or food insecurity. That percentage is even higher—43%—for systemically non-dominant students, such as students of color, disabled and LGBTQIA+. Clark College will identify and assist students in need of food, housing, utilities, transportation, hygiene and safety supplies, technology and similar essential items.

In July, U.S. Bank Foundation provided $7,500 for Clark’s Network Technology (NTEC) program, which trains students in computer networks, including traditional data, video conference technology, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), wireless networks and network security. The grant gives Clark faculty the flexibility to redesign interactive labs and curriculum for online instruction. The NTEC program serves over 200 students each year with a 79% retention rate and an 83% course success rate. Students earn a certificate or degree along with optional industry credentials. In 2018-19, 22 students graduated from the program. An estimated 80% of students find or are recruited for employment in their area of study. This fall, NTEC will launch a new bachelor of applied science degree in Cybersecurity, preparing students for living-wage careers in the information technology industry.

In July, a $5,000 grant from the Associated General Contractors Oregon Columbia Chapter allows Clark to purchase a 3D printer that functions remotely, enabling welding students to work in teams on multi-component assemblies, such as creating parts or assemblies that interlock or integrate within the teams. This functionality helps students complete assignments and collaborate on group projects. It also assists with keeping them enrolled beyond the current crisis.

Written by Rhonda Morin, executive director of communications and marketing. Story updated on 9/2/2022

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