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Friday, January 21, 2022

Riverside Community College District Foundation raises money to help students

A non-profit organization raising funds to help local college students encourages local philanthropists to invest in the future of their community.

The Riverside Community College District Foundation was established in 1975 to bring in donations to support students attending college in the district. There are three fully accredited community colleges in the district – Moreno Valley College, Norco College and Riverside City College.

The Riverside Community College District Foundation Donor Appreciation Dinner, seen in March 2020, is an annual event to recognize and thank donors. From left are: Eli Martinez, a Riverside City College student; Joseph Apino, a narco college student; Launa Wilson, Executive Director of the Foundation; Thalia Moore-Shearer, Norco College student; and Lacey Heron, a student at Moreno Valley College. (Courtesy of Riverside Community College District Foundation)

Today, the Foundation continues to build on its program. It grants approximately $500,000 per year in scholarships. Donors can also offer support through gifts, which invest in the educational and social support students need to succeed.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Foundation expanded its distribution of emergency funds. The organization extended its support to colleges’ food stores, professional clothing closets and helping students at high risk of homelessness. The funds help students who need temporary rent assistance, provide hotel vouchers and ensure these struggling individuals have a roof over their heads.

Raising funds to help students in financial need affects people in the community and 80% of those individuals will impact the sector, said Launa K., the organization’s executive director. Wilson said.

“There are a lot of people in this community who don’t have the financial backing to throw a check at school and don’t worry about the cost,” Wilson said. “The investments we receive from grants, alumni, individuals and businesses help our community colleges open their arms and welcome anyone who wants to come.”

The majority of community college attendees are local students with families in the community. Supporting these students helps create a better educated, better trained workforce. While the district prefers to transfer as many students as possible to a university, many students go on to vocational colleges as well. After gaining certification, they can find high-paying jobs locally.

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Vocational programs in colleges are extensive, offering a wide variety of occupations. These include automotive technology, culinary arts, welding technology, nursing, and others.

Creating scholarships can help not only students, but local businesses as well. A local family-owned business supported scholarships for welding students. The scholarship’s first prize winner, a female welder, was hired by the business upon graduation. She is earning a living and working for the company even today.

Riverside Community College District Foundation raises money to help students
A statue titled “Aspirations” was donated to Riverside City College in May 2019 at a ceremony organized by the Riverside Community College District Foundation. From left are the college’s district chancellor Wolde-now Isaac, artist Frank Hemming and Riverside City College president Gregory Anderson. (Courtesy of Riverside Community College District Foundation)

“It’s the kind of thing I have the honor to be a part of and see all the time,” Wilson said. “The impact that people can make on the lives of their neighbors is tremendous at the community college level.”

Over the past year, several donors have stepped up to help the foundation. The Foundation receives over $100,000 in donor-advised funding annually from the Inland Empire Community Foundation. It also received $25,000 in the Century Circle Fund from the Community Foundation to help support the emergency student fund during the early stages of the pandemic.

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