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.
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.
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.
“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.
The College District Foundation is guided by a board of directors ranging from retired and current teachers to CPAs, lawyers, and business owners. According to Wilson, the board advocates for and supports the mission of the foundation. The organization is looking for more board members and will start recruitment next month. People who are passionate about the work done by community colleges are encouraged to reach out for more information.
“Support your community colleges,” Wilson said. “It’s the start for so many people who don’t necessarily go straight from high school to university or someone who wants to change careers. It’s the start of so many great things.”
Info: 951-222-8626 or https://www.rccd.edu/community/foundation
The Inland Empire Community Foundation works to strengthen Inland Southern California through philanthropy.